So many languages in the world and a smile speaks them all.

A smile can be worth a thousand words. A thousand words that can remain unspoken; that someone could not verbalize but felt in their heart; that someone might not have even known that they needed to experience before the smile shared with them even occurred.

A smile can make a terrible day worthwhile; a sad day worth toughing out. A smile can be private or beaming; flirtatious or sincere; mischievous or kind; wicked or reassuring.

While a smile from someone near and dear to you is always nice, sort of like a secret handshake, a reassurance that this friend, family member, love, etc. is still on your side and in on the game with you, a smile from a stranger is entirely different.

To smile at a stranger is to take a risk. In the .005 seconds that it takes for you to decide if your mouth will greet someone or disregard them, thoughts race through your mind: "Will they smile back? Will they dismiss my cute frown-turned-upside-down? Will they wonder why on earth this random person is smiling at them? Oh, I'm being silly... just look up for goodness sa- Ah. They smiled back. It was definitely my friendly non-frown."

People of Yankeeland are so very different than the people of my country (Texas, obviously). They're often cold and abrupt, far too busy and important to pause and offer up a smile to an unsuspecting passerby. Regardless, I've stayed true to my word (and vows to my Mama) and have not let my South escape me. Whether I'm hurrying down the street, waiting in line at the grocery store, sorting out issues with people at work (y'all, I even smile on the phone. Believe me, you can hear a smile in someone's voice just as clearly as an aggravated frown), I always smile. I like to think that maybe, just maybe, it might bring a little bright moment to someone's day.

Today was a long, rough, endless day for me. When I finally made my way to a seat on my shuttle that takes me to the train (a lovely commute, indeed), I looked up to see a fellow rider boarding. As tired as I was, I dutifully looked up, our eyes met, and I smiled. Her eyes opened a bit wider as she perhaps contemplated the surprise at what I, this stranger, had just done.

And then she smiled back.

Right there in those two seconds stood the reason that I always make an effort to smile and anyone and everyone. Today I was the person who unknowingly needed a little smile. I teared up the tiniest bit as I felt in that moment that my efforts are not always lost on those who have better things to do than smile at a stranger.

I'm all about the giving, but as nice as it is to offer a smile, they're still always awfully nice to receive.

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