There’s a window right next to the desk at which I usually sit in Stanford’s main library. Actually, since there’s another window right behind me, it could be described as a corner office. I knew I’d get there in the end.
From my side, the glass is slightly tinted. From the outside it’s semi-reflective, resulting in the odd phenomenon of people sometimes standing close to the window outside, using it as a mirror while they do their hair or makeup.
It’s always a bit difficult to know where to look when this happens, so I generally pretend I haven’t noticed them. If it was me outside, I think I’d be pretty embarrassed if I suddenly realised there was someone “behind the mirror.”
Anyway, every few days, a Dad stops immediately outside, with his baby and toddler. They leave their buggy behind while they come into the library, often to pick up books or a DVD for the kids. It’s a common enough occurrence, and I’m a frequent enough occupant of this same seat, that the Dad and I smile and nod to each other, albeit through the smokey/reflective window.
The older boy is generally so engrossed in whatever it is that he’s returning or has just borrowed, that he appears not to notice me.
This morning, however, his little brother – a mere babe in arms – looked directly into my eyes and beamed the cherubic smile of a little angel. Of course, although I’d definitely draw the line at describing my smile as anything even close to angelic, I beamed my grin right back.
But here’s the thing. Even a couple of hours after it happened, that two-way smile lit a fire that’s still keeping me warm.
Unfortunately it takes extra effort to smile on days when you really don’t feel like it. But isn’t it also true that it’s at times like these that you benefit the most from exchanging smiles with someone else? For some unknown reason, it can feel particularly good when you don’t actually know each other, too.
It doesn’t always work, of course, and it’s always faintly disturbing when your smile at someone is met with a total blank (I’ve never quite worked out why that happens), but there’s much to be said for seeing if you can get a smile out of someone else.
So do please do try it today, particularly if you happen to be outside the Green Library.
I promise to smile back.