There is a man in front of my tube station who sells magazines. He is black, I would say between 40 and 50 and he always bears a huge smile, flashing off his remarkably white teeth, which are even stronger contrasted against the black skin.
Ever since I have moved to Vienna, I have seen him on various occasions - come rain, come shine. Regardless the weather, he is down there selling magazines.
Why am I writing about this? Well, because living in a grim, grey city makes you marvel at people who haven't lost their smile, who haven't been worn down by the rain, the grey houses, the rudeness of other people. Encountering a smile has become almost scary, making you wonder what might be the agenda behind it - have we really become so suspicious of each other? It seems like it...
This man I am writing about is poor. I know that because he is a refugee who can barely speak German and he is selling magazines for a charity. Obviously, it is an assumption of me that he is poor, but let's be honest, it is highly unlikely that I am wrong, given the indicators.
So, let's establish he is poor. And despite his having so little, as I presume, I find him singing songs nearly every morning when the grim, city-worn faces walk stubbornly past him, barely casting him a look, not to speak of smiles. Every morning he welcomes me with a broad smile at the tube station and his voice can be heard echoing through the underpass up the streets. He is not necessarily a tremendous singer, but he sings songs which sound like ones he learnt in his native country. He seems to love singing them and his singing is neither annoying nor intrusive, and yet I watch the people stealth by, their mouths in firm lines - those who have so much more.
This man makes me think. He also makes me happy. Every morning I walk to the tube and he isn't there, I am a little sad, and each time he is, I already smile when his tunes waft over to me before I can even see him. I always return his smile and, if I am honest, most of the times I would love to join his tunes, but I am too shy. What might people think?
He doesn't seem to care, and inasmuch, he seems much freer than me and all those people who walk past. Because he can sing. He doesn't care what we think - not out of spite or disrespect, he just doesn't.
I find myself envying this man who has nothing in materialism - not because I regret having my own material belongings, but because he seems so much happier than me, despite having so much less. Is it fair, I ask myself, and then I quickly affirm yes, yes it is fair. Happiness is nothing you should be able to buy, it is a mind set to be happy and if he has mastered the skill of happiness opposed to all the grim individuals travelling to their high-paying jobs every morning, there is nothing I can envy.
I can only learn from him. I can admire him. And I can take a little bit of his happiness because happiness is never taken away. They say happiness is the only thing which doubles once you share it, and it is very much true. He smiles. I smile. We both are happier for it. And you know what? I find this glimpse of happiness lingering well into the day. The happiness he spreads in the morning, which I so willingly take, shines like a ray of sunshine through my body and I can feed from it whenever I need to.
It is wondrous to me how we still crave to have, have and have when we have been proven so often that materialistic items will not make us happy - well, at least not exclusively. Don't get me wrong, I want a roof over my head, I am grateful for my many books, I am grateful I can cook and bake everyday, but I know that without a song in my heart - like the man has his - this all accounts for nothing and your sun will be quenched by darkness and sadness.
So, I have decided to find the song which makes me sing every day, like the man's, and who knows, maybe one day I will dare to stand alongside him and then we will sing together and spread happiness, but until then, I want to thank him. He doesn't know who I am, and neither do I know much about him, but we are joined in a mutual sense of happiness almost each morning and I am grateful to have my sunshine distributor there for me, someone who shines bright enough to lift the grimness and coldness of the city - even if only for a moment.
Writer. Editor. Blogger. YouTuber. Freelancer. Traveller. English fanatic.