Smile When You Miss

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear
and the blind can see.
~Mark Twain

For those that don’t know, I live directly across the street from a park. There’s a playground, basketball hoops, and a baseball field. I love hearing and seeing kids laugh, but my writer mind likes watching the adults. I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve seen a sketchy vehicle and had the muse spin a very innocent moment (i.e. grandpa picking up the kids) into pedophiles, kidnappers, black market child trading, etc. I’m not a morbid person, really, I promise, but the muse does this—she sees things and twists them.

But I’m rambling off that way on my first cup of coffee and I meant to ramble the other way, so let’s go back to the ball field.

There are always people over there. They mow the dang thing and redo the chalk every other day. There are games and practice and players just hanging out. I never pay attention to the ball field portion of the park. If it were football or hockey, I’d be either in the stands or on my porch with a beer every game, but it’s baseball. And with no offense to those that enjoy the sport, “meh.”

Until last weekend.

I sat on my picnic table, watching the dragonflies and fighting with the muse as I finish up this novel, when I heard laughter from the ball field instead of the playground area. I looked up and saw a boy swinging wildly at the baseballs his father was tossing. Over and over the father tossed a ball from the bucketful he had. Over and over the kid swung. Sometimes he hit. Sometimes he missed. But he always laughed, giggled, smiled and was generally having a grand old time, with or without success.

Being me, and in lieu of not always doing/saying what I want and then regretting it later (see Alms), I decided to walk over. Without bothering to find my shoes, I hopped off the picnic table and strolled down to the stands. They saw me coming and kept tossing, swinging and laughing. The saw me sit on the first bench in the bleachers and continued on as if I wasn’t there. I smiled. I smiled with my eyes. I smiled from way down inside. And finally I spoke.

I told the kid that I lived right across the street and never ever pay attention, but that I had gotten great pleasure out of watching him that afternoon. He smiled at me and looked at his dad—I’m sure he was wondering if I was crazy and if he should hide behind his dad. His dad smiled at him, then me, and said thank you. I figured they decided I was safe, so I continued with what I’d come down to say. I told him a lot of strangers were going to have comments for him in his lifetime, most of them negative in the reality of what society has become, and I wanted him to hear something nice. I thanked him for the smiles and told him to keep laughing as he swung. There was a tiny bit of chit chat and I left, leaving them to gather the balls into the bucket and begin once again—tossing, swinging, laughing.

I got back to the picnic table and decided I should blog this. I thought the blog was about being kind and telling strangers positive things. I thought the blog was about enjoying the things around you.

Sometime last night, as I was thinking about the blog, it became something completely different.

It became a reminder to laugh when you swing, and giggle when you miss. To keep throwing balls. To keep your spirits up as you try. Sure, we should be nice to people. Yes, it’s good to offer compliments. But the reality is, the children have it right.

Somewhere on the road to adulthood, we often forget to smile when we miss. Smile because the attempt was fun. Smile because the attempt was worth it because we learned something. Smile because, well, it was an attempt at all.

It takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown. I think that’s so you can use the extra energy to keep swinging…


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