Chance encounters

A few weeks ago I was walking with a friend on a New Jersey beach. We rarely see each other because she lives in Philadelphia and I live in Columbus.

Once a year we get to walk on the beach and share the things women share. We always walk in the morning and right at the water's edge. We walked, both deeply connected with each other, with the feel of the water at our feet and the sound of the ocean coming in and going out. Then it happened.

A young tow-headed boy ran up to us and stood only a foot from me, looking up with excitement. "I love the beach. Do you like coming to the ocean?" he said. "I'm staying for a week. How long will you be here?" He continued, "Did you see the dolphins? They're right there. Look! Do you want to swim with me?"

He came from nowhere and completely engaged us. I felt as if I'd been snapped out of a trance. In an instant, I fell in love with this boy of about 6, who was the picture of innocence, beauty and aliveness. I took a mental snapshot of that sweet boy and I still see it in my mind's eye.

We live in a world that coaxes us to see what's wrong. Sometimes we forget to see the goodness that life has to offer. The image of that child visits me when I remind myself to honor what is right about life. I always smile when I re-live that momentary encounter.

Wouldn't it be a different world if we all approached it with the openness of a child? Think about the chance encounters we all have every day. By just making eye contact with another person and offering them the pleasure of your smile, you create a moment of goodness.

Consider what your world might be like if you committed to offering your smile to 10 strangers a day. Walking past the woman walking her dog. Waving and smiling to the men who pick up the trash. The harried waitress hustling at lunch. The neighbor you never met. The person next to you at the stop light.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the people in your life asked you, "Why do you seem so happy lately?"

Your smile might be that moment that a complete stranger remembers as they try to think of something good that happened that day.

Go ahead. Make the world a better place.