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The Magic of a Smile

When I first moved to California, I felt like a fish out of water. I had moved from New York City to begin graduate school in a very small town located about an hour and a half drive east of Los Angeles. Prior to living in New York, I had been living in Seoul, South Korea. So as you can imagine, coming from two of the largest cities in the world to a small town took some getting used to.

During my first week in California, I decided to take a walk around my neighborhood. I saw people watering their lawns, picking lemons and avocados from their trees, and pruning their rose bushes.

“Wow!” I thought, “I’ve only seen this stuff happen in movies!”

As I rounded the block, I saw a jogger that was making his way in my direction. As he approached me, all of the familiar city-living internal warning sirens went off.

“Can you see both his hands? Remember, you can use your keys as a weapon. Why didn’t you take that self-defense course when you had the chance!”

As my mind raced, the jogger stopped, asked me how my day was, welcomed me to the neighborhood and went on his way.

“Well,” I thought. “This is new.”

You see, living in a big city had taught me that on some level I was supposed to mistrust everyone around me. And for good reason, there are a lot of bad people out there. But there are also a lot of good people in the world, many of whom would love to be smiled at and asked how their day was. The jogger had every reason in the world to mistrust me. He didn’t even know me. But the small gesture to say hello made me feel good!

The experience with the jogger popped into my head this afternoon as I rode the train home from work. I decided to put down my book and look at the person in the seat across from me and smile. She smiled back. And you know what? That felt pretty good.

“A joyful heart is good medicine. But a broken spirit dries up the bones,” (Proverbs 17:22, NASB).

Jael Amador writes from New York, New York.

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About Jael Amador

Jael Amador

writes from New York, New York.

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