A Thought on Making the World a Better Place.
Last night, I was out with my teenage son. On the way home we stopped at the grocery store. When we got to the front of the checkout line, I spoke with cashier in cheerful, joking way and called her by her name.
When we got to the car, my son told me that a friend who works in a different grocery store hated working the register because it was hard to stand in one place for so long and mostly because people were so lacking in courtesy and civility. He remarked that he liked how I was able to make people smile.
This was not something that came naturally to me. Once upon a time, notably when I was my son’s age, I was bashful with a deep-seated fear of initiating any interaction with strangers.
When I got my first post college job in inside sales, I was sent to a “customer service seminar”. The seminar included a brief unit on the value of a smile. The instructor suggested an exercise whereby the next time we were in a place like a mall or a supermarket, we should make a concerted effort to make eye contact with strangers and simply smile at them.
When I first started doing this, it required a deliberate effort but over time it has become nearly automatic. My favorite place to practice is the supermarket, late in the afternoon when people are on their way home from work. It takes little effort to observe people totally self absorbed, their minds multi-tasking as their worry mice gallop about and drenched in tension and stress.
I spot a subject and turn my gaze upon them but I do not stare. If they look at me and make eye contact, I smile. They almost always smile back and in this moment the set of their face changes and I can see their tension melt away. With a brief nod of acknowledgement, I turn away and move on.
I have no idea if the observed effect lasts more than a moment
but I suspect that it does.
There are smiles that make us happy,
There are smiles that make us blue
There are smiles that steal away the teardrops,
Like the sunbeams steal away the dew,
There are smiles that have a tender meaning
That the eye of love alone can see
But the smiles that fill my heart with sunshine
are the smiles that you give to me.
Lyric by J. Will Callahan, 1874-1946
In comments following the last episode I posed a question about the role of semantics in these conversations. The question arose because I observed some of the sub-threads seemed to imply dissension or disagreement that was less perceptible to me than it was to the participants.
My observation was that the disagreement was rooted more in the choice of words and the subjective connotations applied than it was in material differences in the concepts being discussed. The English language is rich in idiom, subtle nuance of meaning and lends itself to metaphor. This affords writers a vast palette of colorful expression with which to weave wondrous images in fiction and poetry but can thwart clarity when discussing the types of topics that crop up here at LYR.
I live my life in pursuit of the “grandest version of the greatest vision I’ve ever had about who I am.”
This quote comes from an author that most would associate with a particular brand of contemporary spirituality. It could just as easily be applied to those with a wholly secular outlook or possibly even those with a very religious one. It does not define any “greatest vision”, it merely suggests that we each have one and it does not speculate upon where that individual vision originates.
The real power of this idea comes from the word pursuit. It is the power that is within each of us to create, co-create or re-create who we choose to be.
Asked on the previous thread:
What is left when the ego is let go?
11th verse of the Tao Te Ching
Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub
it is on the hole in the center
that the use of the cart depends
Shape clay into a vessel;
it is the space within that makes it useful.
Carve fine doors and windows
but the room is useful in its emptiness
The usefulness of what is
depends on what is not
This is a Gather forum for discussing religion and spirituality. Sharing our spiritual beliefs is one small step towards building a better world.
The discussion rules are the same as on earlier posts.
Facilitators: Ann M., Shira, Sy G., WM (Bill) H.
Photo Credits: Thanks to Boris G. for keeping this series supplied with great images