As I teach more seniors and people in Rehabilitation facilities this year, I noticed how their rare smiles bring me more joy than smiles had brought me in the past, in the classrooms. Is it because it happens less frequently? People who have more physical ailments, pain and challenges in their daily lives smile less often, and so when they do, it means much more to the person at the receiving end. An ordinary smile becomes extra-ordinary because one does not expect it. When someone who usually sits in the wheelchair with his head down without much reaction asks for a microphone in order to “sing,” it is a big step. Watching a person come to live is one of the best joys. This is very much like watching a baby learn how to clap, or toddler, how to walk.
How can we bring the unexpected into our daily routine? When we pause for half a minute now and then in our ordinary life, a crack in the asphalt or some leaves on the ground, the way the light shapes the shadow of an object may appear differently to us. Re-framing one’s visual cues and emulating the point of view of a photographer, or a painter. may elevate an ordinary moment to an extraordinary one. The difficult part lies in the pause itself. Sometimes one needs to schedule these, randomly throughout the day.