Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lessons from a Homeless Man

I was zipping down 27th street with defined purpose; a cup of Starbucks in one hand, my iPod in another. About a block away from my apartment, a homeless man, strolling in the opposite direction, stopped, faced me, and---with a knowing stare---asked,

"Why aren't you smiling? There's so much to be happy about!"

He stood there, clad in a fraying t-shirt and forest green pants, waiting for an answer.

Normally, I would have continued on my path, dismissing the interaction as a part of the city's daily wear and tear. But I paused and peered at my reflection in the window of an adjacent store.

I looked dismayed. Pissed. Rushed. Frantic.

But why? Why was the pace, the going, the let's-just-get-there-attitude permeating every part of me?

I curled up my headphones and shrugged my shoulders. With a swift shake of his bald head, he was gone, on to more trying pursuits in Murray Hill.

After that, I continued to see him, basking in shaded corners and accepting the occasional bundle of change. We usually exchanged quick glances of acknowledgement and moved on.

But ever since we spoke, I've made sure to smile because there is so much to be happy about.

And sometimes, a stranger can hold a mirror up to us, forcing us to notice things we may not even realize.


  1. this is a lovely post, inspiring....smiles...

  2. You're absolutely right. If I'm not smiling enough, it probably means my life is out of balance in some way.

  3. I think it's nice it made you stop and think. Other people would've just scowled and not given the exchange a second thought. We do get overwhelmed with our own stuff and forget the big picture sometimes.

  4. Oh this is a great post. I could just see this interation and that you stopped is good! Why don't we smile more?

  5. I agree!! I definitely feel like I smile more!

  6. Wow, thanks for sharing. I love coming across posts that make you think like this. Definitely inspiring.

  7. Great post! I love it :) That's such a wonderful thing to happen, and today I give a smile in thought of you! Thanks! x

  8. This is such a beautiful post.
    The other day, I was frowning at the computer screen, and my older one said, "Mamma, why are you always angry with the computer?". Made me think that one did.

  9. Aw, that's so cute! I bet my face scowls at the computer all the time.

  10. Isn't it funny how strangers can see our true selves sometimes better than we do?

  11. What a great reminder. There is so much to smile about! Thank you.

  12. I.

    We all need reminders that there is much to be happy about.
    Thanks Saumya!