Walk The Smile…

I go for a daily walk even if we’ve been up to town or down to the High Street I still like to take my evening constitutional at my pace, for an hour.

I am having to stride out earlier than usual because of the encroaching darkness; walking around unlit streets does not seem safe, even if it is only 5 o’clock in the afternoon!

Today I was out with the Mums picking their children up from the Catholic primary school around the corner.  The children are always so happy; their faces lit.

I am getting to know the neighbourhood rather well, in fact a young student stopped me yesterday and asked for a road and I looked at him and told him he was walking in the wrong direction.

“No,” he said and shook his head, “it’s here,” he made a sweeping gesture in the general direction of the flats across the street.   I shook my head and pointed back the way he’d come.

“It’s there, trust me, I walk here every day.”  He looked gloomy, a foreigner who knew better than I.

“Do you have a map?”  I asked.  He nodded, and dug around in his pockets.

Handing over a piece of folded paper he disappeared and I thought,

“Oh no it’s a letter bomb!” but he’d only stepped behind me into the street to retrieve his water bottle.

I opened the map and showed him where we were and where he wanted to be. Printed proof he was heading the wrong way!

That’s me now, a walking Google map.

I sent him back the way he’d come with pubs and stations as landmarks to guide him.

Today as I walked, lost in thought, a van drove passed and a man’s voice shouted,


Whether the injunction was directed at me or not, I took it to heart.

I had been noting that hub’s facial expressions weren’t reflecting the words he uttered, a condition a lot of people our age have, it’s called,

“The weight of life resting on our faces.”

Startled into remedial action I tried to smile.  That isn’t easy, it feels ridiculous as if…

“Duh, where’s the camera?”

So I tried a gentle upturning of the mouth.  That also felt ridiculous, I thought passersby would say,

“You!  What are you grinning at?”

I looked at other people to see how they were holding their faces.

Some looked glum, tough lives etched in stone.

Some looked pleasant, not an upturning of the lips, more a horizontal line, probably on its way down I would say.

The happiest looking people were walking in pairs and making each other smile or at least animating each other’s faces and bringing a twinkle to the eyes.

“That’s it,” I thought, “pretend I’m talking to someone!”

I started a faux conversation with myself in an effort to encourage my face to reflect the result. I worried people would notice my moving lips and think I was mad.

I decided to change my attitude.  After all, there are lots of happy things in my life; I have a husband who waits for me impatiently at home to smother me with smooches (as his daily emails say); I have a warm comfortable flat to live in; I can write all day if I like; or sleep; or read.  Why not let all my fortune show up on my face while I stride along?

I started humming.  My face settled into a more approachable shape.

At least it felt gentler.

I realized I was humming a hymn!

Even better!

Hum the Talk.

Walk the Smile!

Was that you, God, hollering at me from the van?

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