Smile. Not just for our sakes, but for yours too.

Smile SidewalkSMILE.

It doesn't matter that you're wearing a mask and no one can see it.

And, yes, go ahead and say, “Hello.” Or, “How are you?” Maybe: “Have a nice day.”

Despite our anxieties, we can still communicate kind words and actions: say, a nod. Better yet, a wave.

I've noticed that, since COVID, I've avoided looking others in the eye. I no longer pet strangers' dogs, let alone ask the age of their pet, or complement their pet's pretty coat.

The only positive thing that's come out of it is that, while looking elsewhere, I see some things I may have missed: like the artist Fnnch's honey bears, which have popped up all over San Francisco. They masked in solidarity with the rest of us.

And when looking down, more street art catches my eye, like the lyrics to that great song from the musical, “Annie,” reminding us to smile.

Frankly, I'm glad to be chided out of my anxiety. I don't like the scaredy-cat I've become.

I don't like projecting my fears onto strangers.

It stops NOW.

If you've felt the same way, join me in regaining some of the humanity we're hiding under our masks.

To honor those who are genuinely superhuman—our first responders, the folks in the front lines of serving the sick, elderly, and the neediest among us; and those who keep essential businesses running so the rest of us can try to get through this as best we can— the very least we can do is to be human. Again.

—Josie