You Don’t Know Their Burdens

It’s rare to see a person on the street or on public transportation with a pleased or contented expression on his or her face. While observing people personally, we might wonder what our own facial expression is as we look around ourselves. It seems that people in public often do not look at each other.

We move among each other, but we do not encounter each other. I expect that our primitive primate senses govern our behavior. Perhaps eye to eye contact invites conflict, as it might among chimpanzees. Smiling at a person might be seen as a threat if one’s teeth are displayed. Sometimes, a smile at a person in a library or a restaurant can lead to verbal communication. That could lead to almost anything.

The hundreds of faces one might see in a single week are most likely to be sad or blank. We overlook the unwelcoming atmosphere because we know that each individual is carrying the facts of their lives with them. One might be planning what to make for dinner. Another might be concerned about a meeting coming up at their office. Others worry about sick friends, lost dogs, rent increases and anything else.

We move through our days, our faces showing our feelings. When it’s a lovely day and all is well in our own little world, there is peacefulness in our expression. When our own relationship with the significant other is in jeopardy, stress or concern is shown.

If we could master the art of compartmentalizing the matters in our lives, we might be able to always wear a peaceful expression by dwelling on the sweet parts of life.

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