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  • Charlotte Bayala

Share a smile

I am sitting in a waiting room at The Mayo Clinic with a loved one. It’s about as beautiful a medical complex can be yet it is filled with fear, stress and pain. If you look hard enough you can see it in the eyes of the people you pass in the halls. Sometimes the overheard conversations and glances of reassurance bring tears to my eyes. At home people on the street show their stress and anxiety through anger or being rude. Here somehow almost everyone shows a level of compassion I don’t see elsewhere. Maybe it’s because they understand how precious life is. Every time I come here I always think of one such gentleman that really touched and taught me a little about hope, compassion and love.

One night after leaving my loved one at the hospital to sleep I headed to my car to pick up something I needed before going to the hotel to rest a little. I was tired, stressed out and probably close to tears. I passed a group of people walking to the hotel. They had the normal stressed expressions and one of them stopped and told them he had to run back to the car. I remember thinking - “that must be frustrating for him” and kept on walking with my own stress induced tunnel vision.

His car must have been closer than mine because as I made it back towards the elevator he was already there and held it for me. I looked at him as I thanked him and I realized he was different. The people he was with earlier all looked worn down, however, he looked like he woke up from the best nap in the world. Even though he was at least in his mid 70s and it was late at night he looked young, excited and wide awake.

While in the elevator he told me about his wife. How he was there with her because she needed emergency heart surgery and they had to fly her in to the hospital. He told me how she almost died but the surgery went well and it will be touch and go for a bit but she’s alive. He told me this as a person would tell you about just booking a vacation. Full of life and excitement. He could have looked at as the worst day of his life and he told me about it as it being the best. As he got off the elevator I wished him luck and he walked away with a pep in his step that I don’t have at 8am let alone close to midnight.

I think about him often. I wonder what happened to him and how his wife is. Most of all I’d like to thank him for the lesson he didn’t even know he taught me.

He taught me that no matter how bad things can be there is still room for hope, compassion and love every day we are alive. He reminded me how actions send ripples out into the world and we have to choose if we are going to be agents for positive or negative change.

He made me ask - how does the story I’ve created for myself affect the people I interact with? Sometimes I don’t do a very good job of it. There are days I’d just like to feel sorry for myself or I let stress grab hold of me and change the way I see the world. Those of you who know me from the classes I teach ask me if Yoga instructors ever get mad or upset. I always say we are human and we feel like anyone else. We just try to hold it together for the hour we are in class.

After having the pleasure of spending two minutes of what could have been the worse day of this gentleman’s life with him I realized that every day we are alive is a good day and every smile we give to a stranger could be that one thing that helps them realize there is hope.

Try to share a smile with someone today no matter what kind of a day you’re having.


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