It must have been some moment, or I may have needed more elbow room than I’m normally allowed, because nature saw it fit to intervene and interrupt whatever settled on my mind to make me look as if I needed more than a block’s worth of space.
Out of nowhere, this guy dropped from a nearby tree, landing right across my path, breaking the troubling reverie that had taken over. I couldn’t help but pause and take a second look to be sure I had seen correctly. There, between the cracks: a smile.
“No, you fool!” my brain cried exasperated. “It’s a leaf! Leaves don’t smile. You’re having a moment of paraidolia. That inexplicable human need to find and see patterns in inert objects. It’s the same thing that happens every time you look at a potato and think you can eat it because it was smiling at you. Or when you meditate and start seeing faces all over the wood floor. Snap out of it!”
And snap out of it I did. I grabbed my phone, snapped a photo of the leaf, and continued on my way.
I wasn’t frowning any longer. The corners of my nose dropped back in place. I added a lighter step to my walk, and I found myself humming the theme song of a certain 1960’s sitcom that worms itself into my brain whenever I feel silly.