ROAD OF LIFE SERIES: #2 Where are the Smiles? (20220516)

Your assignment:

  • Walk down the street and see the other walkers.
  • Watch those running.
  • Observe car and truck drivers.
  • Snatch a peek at a bicyclist as they zip by you.
  • Scrutinize people getting into shape (in any exercise regime).
  • View those at work.

Discovery: Too many serious people and not enough smiling going on in life.

I recently “ran” (aka walk-ran) a 5K race. I was in the back half of the runners since roadrunner genes are not plentiful in my DNA.

I started off like everyone else. “Bang!” went the starting gun, and we all picked up our first foot of the race and set it down, only to repeat it for the other side. Taking my sights from the feet in front of me and looking up, I began to notice those around me. We had all volunteered for this race, paid our fee, got the T-shirt and runners numbers. We signed up for many reasons but everyone’s “Why?” was different.

We had woken up early, strapped on our running shoes and clothes, checked the weather, registered, got tagged, and stepped up to the starting line (or way, way, way in the back like me). Most of us probably felt a jolt of anticipation as the starting gun was fired, and then it was time to go.

So, we ran or walked. And ran or walked some more.

I was filled with respect by the breadth of participant ages. I was awed at the finish time of the first place winner and wished I could have caught the same tail wind to shorten my time just a wee bit.

BUT…out of over 350 runners, maybe 10 ran with smiles. Some had stoic countenances, others looked like I probably looked…. exhausted. It was the rare individual who ran with any external sign of joy.

In Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell states “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.”

Perhaps the joy was within all those 5K runners and just did not reach their face.

I know when the moment came and I realized no one was smiling, I decided to smile. I decided to toss a “dad joke” out to the volunteers as we trudged by them. I tried to remember to say a “Thank You” to the police who were ensuring the safety of the event, and to those who were giving us a cup of water as we “zipped” by them.

Did I remember to smile as I crossed the finish line? I will let you ponder that and perhaps ask you to consider the last time you smiled while waiting in line, sitting at a stoplight, walking down the street, working with a colleague, and so on. I can get so caught up in what I think I need to be doing next, that I forget…to smile…to feel joy in the moment and share it with others.

So, find your smile. Share it and you will be surprised and uplifted by receiving an answering smile from most of the people you meet.

I hope you have a day full of smiles!

ROAD OF LIFE SERIES: #1 Stoplights (20220516)

I get irritated at stoplights. Silly, right? It is as if I expect the light to see my displeasure and react accordingly as I chant “turn, turn, turn” when approaching a red-light. Or hopefully, the light will take it personally and next time won’t turn red when I am coming to the intersection (how DARE it turn red?!). Or maybe the local department of transportation will see a video of my red-light anguish, have pity on my soul, and change the car detection algorithms (or wiring).

Right.

Stoplights have been planted for a purpose.

  • To slow us down, intentionally, and help control traffic flow and congestion.
  • To help us impatient humans to not run into each other.
  • To supply a means to allow people from all directions (and walks of life) to take a turn in driving through the intersection.
  • To allow pedestrians and cyclists enough time to cross the street without fearing for their lives.

Stoplights also force us to take a break in our mad rush down the road; perhaps to look around and see who is next to us, who is smiling, who is frowning, who is car dancing, and who is playing music so loud only someone in the next county (parish) cannot hear it. They give us a moment to look at our surroundings: the storefronts, people, homes, businesses, sky, and other influences on our environment. They give a gentle reminder that there are others in the world besides us (drivers, homeless, emergency workers, transportation drivers, walkers, runners).

They can also make available a moment to reflect on the good things that happened earlier in the day or learn from the mistakes and heartaches met along the road of life. They can give us a moment of solitude to calm down and breath even though road rage may rear its all-to-ugly head and strike us all too easily.

And they come with two added benefits: one to tell us when to go (act, decide, do, step on the gas) and one to caution us (watch out, be careful, look all ways) to be ready not only for the red-light but also for decisions in life, for preconceptions, and for much needed change.

We usually ascribe stoplights in order as green (GO), yellow/amber/orange (CAUTION), then red (STOP) but reality begs us to consider stopping for a moment to reflect (red), cautiously begin changes (yellow), and then to finally act (green). We trust others will remain in their lanes and follow the light sequence, and even when we are told to GO, it behooves us to look all ways as intersections are crossed.

Because we all get distracted and miss the signs right in front of our noses.

So, as stoplights force us to take a break in our daily drives, let’s use our time there wisely instead of drumming on the steering wheel impatiently waiting for green to appear.