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  • Ralph Black

A Glimmer of Hope

Updated: May 8, 2019

There were so many times when the unfamiliar terrain threatened to weigh me down enough that I would crumple and be unable to move. But just then, a wonderful experience would pull me out and make the world settle around me again.

London is a scary place to handle, but somehow, the people made it that much better. Take, for instance, the group in the photograph that laugh and walk together while a Buckingham Palace Guard, the epitome of English history, strolls amidst them. Isn't it beautiful?

Taking the tube (underground subway) was always interesting to me. I especially liked watching the people flock on and off. One group got on the tube together and were talking so loudly and joyfully in another language that it lifted my heard just to watch them.

Sadly, most of the people were wearing earbuds and trying to ignore everyone around them, but there was one guy that was looking around, possibly enjoying the people as much as I was. I caught his eye and smiled, and he actually smiled at me! This was an older gentleman, and he wasn’t hitting on me, and it was real smile! Just genuine, human connection! I couldn’t get over that. It wasn’t that fake little half smile everyone does when you catch someone’s eye and have to acknowledge them even though you don’t really feel like interacting with them. It was a real smile. I smiled back at him and then suddenly my group was getting off of the tube, and that was that. 

A long time ago I read about a man doing a social experiment where he would stand in a mall and smile at people, and tally how many people smiled back. After reading about it, I took up trying to do it as well, but I got tired of the half smiles really quickly. But in England, with an entirely new culture, it was worth trying again. And someone smiled back.

Cover Photo courtesy of:

Victoria Doda

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