Have you ever noticed how difficult it is not to smile when a huge smile appears directly in front of you? When happiness visits someone around us, it is always willing to share. Never stingy, happiness has the power to bathe us with a pure and refreshing feeling that stays with us long after the person who gave it leaves.
Being at the right place at the right time to receive the residual effects of happiness is truly a gift. This happens to me often, but two times in the past few weeks have really stayed in my mind.
I was recently at the Goodwill book store signing copies of my new cookbook. A boy and his mother stopped by to visit with my wife, Debra, and me before they shopped. During the course of the conversation, his mother reminded me of introducing me to her mom at the cooking show that The Telegraph hosted at the Macon Coliseum last year.
As soon as she brought it up, I remembered her mother vividly. She was very excited to meet me, so the daughter took a picture of her mother and me. I remember how her mothers excitement and happiness actually made my day. I smiled recollecting the feeling.
The boy then explained they were there to get his grandmother one of my new cookbooks. Youve just got to sign it! he exclaimed with a smile. Shes your biggest fan but shes sick and couldnt come today. Shes really disappointed.
He went on to tell us how he loved playing basketball and, with a big smile plastered across his face, told us he was lightning fast on the court. Debra and I couldnt help but smile as we listened to his enthusiasm. I signed a copy of my cookbook and wrote a special note to his grandmother. They disappeared in the crowd to shop as I continued to sign.
It wasnt long before this boy and his mother stopped back by on their way out to tell us goodbye. With a smile beaming as bright as sunshine, the young boy almost galloped toward us. He was so happy he was absolutely unable to contain it. Out it spilled and, in that instance, he passed it along to us.
For this boy, grinning from ear to ear in front of us, happiness came in the form of a new pair of pants. Well, not exactly new, they were pre-worn jeans that his mother just purchased at Goodwill. He decided to wear them home. I smiled even larger as I recalled the times Id wanted to do that.
These are my new jeans! he said, as if they were one of a kind made by a famous designer. Im so excited about them, he continued without taking time to breathe in between. But, the best part is I found this in one of the pockets, he blurted out as he slid his hand into the front pocket of the pants. Out came a folded $5 bill that had been left in the pocket from the previous owner.
Joy radiated from his face. You would have thought he had just won the lottery. As they walked away, my wife and I couldnt help but continue smiling. Without even knowing it, he made us happy with his happiness.
The second incident happened last Saturday as Debra and I were visiting a local antiques market. We had barely walked in the door before I was approached by a lady who came bearing a smile.
Im so sorry to bother you but we are in Macon celebrating my friends birthday and she loves you. Would you mind walking over and speaking to her? It would mean a lot, the lady said.
Sure, I said. Where is she? She pointed her out and I smiled as I walked toward her. The look on her face said it all. She lit up like a ray of sunshine. Happy birthday! I said and she gave me a big hug.
The large group of ladies was from Montezuma and had traveled to Macon for a day of shopping, eating and fun. My wife suggested we take a photo.
Are you sure that wouldnt be too much trouble? they replied in unison. No, not at all, I said.
We got in a line and Debra coordinated our placement. When she was satisfied with it, she snapped several photos. They all thanked me with smiling faces that made me smile in turn. There was no doubt there was a lot of love in that group and we could certainly feel it. The rest of the afternoon I continued to smile. They had made my day and all I had to do was be in a photo. I smiled and was grateful.
What I didnt know until later that evening touched me even more. The daughter of the lady celebrating her birthday wrote me.
I just wanted to say thank you for taking time for a photo with us on my moms birthday. It meant more to her than you know. This was my moms first birthday without my dad, who passed away Dec. 18 of a heart attack at 52 years old. We didnt even get to say goodbye. We (Moms friends, my sister and myself) were trying to keep her busy. Running into you was the icing on the cake. I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for making her day extra special. She loves you very much!
We all have different things that make us happy. We all have the ability within us to spread happiness and make someone else smile. We never know what a person is going through and how much they may need a smile or a hug. Thats why we should always share.
For me, on both occasions, I was at the right place at the right time. The joy I received from these two encounters will stay with me for a long time. Thats just how smiles are!
More with Mark
Visit Belk at River Crossing from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday for an Engagement Party! Create a registry, take home Marks new cookbook, Delicious, and be entered into a drawing for an all-expense paid beach wedding and honeymoon on North Carolinas Crystal Coast (valued at $25,000). Enjoy refreshments, prizes and expert advice.
Its almost Cherry Blossom Festival time! Kick-off is from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at Acme Paint and Decorating, 1979 Riverside Drive. Car painting, cherry trees, food and lots more! Sponsored by the Think Pink Committee of the festival.
The Eastman Garden Club presents An Evening with Mark Ballard at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Magnolia Theater on Main Street in Eastman. Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 at the door. Call (478) 374-1509, (478) 374-4139 or visit Colemans Gifts or the Chamber of Commerce for tickets.
Check out Marks website, www.markballard.com, for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff.
Mark is on www.macon.com 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured.
Mark Ballards column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; fax them to (478) 474-4930; call (478) 757-6877; e-mail to email@example.com; or become a subscriber to Marks Facebook page.