When an accidental smile jostles you, a light is thrown and shadows cast, as if in a play; poetry ensues.
I was in a distracted frame of mind, doing errands, oblivious to breathing, walking and daylight. I pushed through the door of Grove Market and stood aside for an elderly woman approaching the entrance. She looked at the sign below the handle of the door I'd just come through and read it: No backpacks or dogs allowed inside. She looked up at me and said, "No backpacks, dogs, or..." and pointed at me and bathed me in a smile. I looked at her beaming there, her white hair and hunched body. The smile trumped everything, and then turned into a quick little giggle. Charmed, I was sent somewhere else, and I stayed there all day.
I had seen the twinkling little girl smiling from her dried-apple face. Her dark eyes twinkled and danced; she wore a red jacket, some strands of her white hair fluttered like little flags. Her smile teased its sister out of me, over and over.
Another day, I was sitting at my table where sat a vase holding a chrysanthemum from a friend's garden. I was writing checks, paying bills, crossing items off my list. All of a sudden, every single petal on the flower landed with a soft plop on the tabletop, heaping up in a small pink pile. Just like that. It's the only thing I remember from the day, the sudden odd event, the abrupt demise of something that seconds before had been a picture of delicate perfection.
Odder, weirder things have happened spontaneously, fatefully, and without warning. You wonder all sorts of things -- probably the best result of unpredictable small events. A shift in reality, a spark, maybe just the spark you'd been missing in the day nudges you out of boredom, dullness or complacency to a new realm where your imagination plays. Surprise springs from nowhere, shakes us back to alertness and out of the descent to a bleak, dull existence. Long may we play.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way