One Smile at a Time
by Royce Paris·
2020 will be a year to remember. A lot of us don't know what the near future has in store. So I came outside with a mission. To make people smile. Smiling is contagious. I knew that If I could get a few people to smile on camera it could motivate others to smile later. But what I didn't know is that if you're searching for Smiles, you don't need to go too far to find them. I started my journey in Central Park. The first people I met were two older gentlemen who meet up in the park regularly for a weekly read and chat. As you can see they are enjoying themselves while also practicing social distancing.
The next two gentlemen were enjoying some drinks in the shade. I had to raise my voice to speak to them across the bushes. They were happy to contribute to the collection peace signs & smiles.
I met a photographer.
Saw a statue practicing social distancing.
And grabbed some water from my man selling it ice cold. The heat is no joke.
Central Park is huge. I discover a new trail, or park within the park every time I step inside. On 104th and 5th ave there is a conservatory garden. This recreational park worker keeps it beautiful for viewers. I attempted to speak to her. However, talking through the mask is somewhat difficult while trying to maintain social distance. Not too many words were understood during our exchange, but was understood was "Smile" and "Hope" and that did the trick. I could see and even feel her smile through her mask.
I can’t lie, it’s tough trying to stop New Yorkers out in public. It’s even tougher trying to get them to pose for a picture after. I knew I needed thick skin to make it through the people who ignored me or stared at me crazy. This was okay. Because when someone actually agreed to take the picture I was the first person smiling. One way to get other people to smile is to smile first (Rule 356). Meeting this family was my highlight of the day. I watched as the mother, after hearing me out, gathered her kids to smile. We had a whole 5 min photoshoot with the kids striking a new pose each time the shutter from my camera released. They brought infectious energy and I left them feeling better than I was before we met.
While I was in Central Park searching for smiles, I was able to make some brief, but intimate connections with my fellow New Yorkers. Sometimes I get ignored, sometimes I make a new friend. Nonetheless, I'm fine with making one person smile a day and today I got plenty. Their pictures mean so much more than the moment they agreed to smile for it. Now their smiles can be used to encourage others to smile as well. Despite what you heard on T.V. or on social media Goodthings are still out there. We just have to find them. One smile at a time.