March 01, 2016
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Our Naples-based psychiatrist reflects on her morning walk to work, as she passes by people who simply want to see a friendly smile.
In Naples, lonely people leave their homes early in the morning. You can tell they're lonely by the look in their eyes. Mostly men, often walking a dog, typically mixed breeds that look as scruffy as their owners. You see them heading to the coffee bar, chatting with the newsstand owner, buying cigarettes, timidly interacting with each another.
This morning as I was going to work, I tried to put myself in their shoes. I woke up tired and moody, but as soon as I left the building, I felt compelled, like every day, to say to dozens of "buongiorno!" (good morning!) and smile in return just as many times.
To the elderly ladies who are out enjoying the morning cool before the heat confines them to their basements, to the shopkeepers opening their stores, to those who had a sleepless night, to the junk dealer, to the cardboard collector, and to all the people in the neighborhood I cross paths with every morning.
And when I arrived at work, I felt better. As if all those smiles had drained away the bad mood, and I understood that lonely people need their morning friends. A smile and a "good morning" can give meaning even to the saddest and most painful daybreak — even for those who know no one may ever give them a goodnight kiss.
Learn more about Worldcrunch's exclusive Dottoré! series here.