Recently, I was dining in a buffet setting. People were coming and going between all the food options. The dessert table was particularly busy. As I approached, I saw what appeared to be a bit of a commotion. Not a fight or a brawl. What I saw was joy. I experienced a man living in the moment.
An employee serving cheesecake had facial palsy that immobilized one side of his face. Something that I would not have noticed or understood in the past. However, knowing what I know about living without the full use of facial muscle, I tuned into the picture before me.
I was captivated because he showed no sign of being self-conscious. He was not feeling sorry for himself. His infectious smile took over his face. His eyes, laugh, and broad “half” smile were pulling customers in.
On each side of him, servers dished up other desserts. The servers were pleasant (and the desserts too), but I don’t remember them as individuals. They weren’t pulling people in with a contagious enthusiasm for one particular dessert. Their smiles paled in comparison to his.
People responded to this one man. They chose his dessert over others – not for a lack of choices but due to his inviting nature. He was delighted to interact with each person and proudly dished out what I would define as oversized portions. It wasn’t about whatever he had gone through to become facially paralyzed. It was about the moment he lived in and the joy of interaction.
I won’t soon forget the power of one man’s smile.