by third year Hana Rehman
You’re not having such a great day. It’s one of those days in which you feel trapped inside a box, and the world inside the box is out to get you. Rationally you know you will eventually break out and things will reveal themselves to be better than they seem, but the walls of the box are opaque and it’s hard to remember there’s a kinder world outside.
And then you pass a stranger, smiling at a phone or a book or another person’s joke. The smile tugs at their entire face, lighting up their eyes and pinching their nose in a ridiculous, jubilant, beautiful expression.
You stare a moment, transfixed, and then realize after you've passed the stranger by that the smile was contagious, and now it’s on you. Suddenly, if only for a moment, the box seems surmountable. Or transparent. Or simply not as important as you thought.
There’s something so warm about witnessing a stranger’s moment of joy, or laughter, or triumph. Someone around you is experiencing something wonderful. You may not know them, and they may not know it, but they share a glimpse of it with you. They remind you that happiness bounds from places of random chance, that you’re not isolated and untouchable—that you’re not really inside a box at all.