Ever since Billy had been thrown into shrubbery for the sake of a picture, he had been seeing Saint Elmo's fire, a sort of electronic radiance around the heads of his companions and captors. It was in the treetops and on the rooftops of Luxembourg, too. It was beautiful.
Billy was marching with his hands on top of his head, and so were all the other Americans. Billy was bobbing up-and-down, up-and-down. Now he crashed into Roland Weary accidentally. "I beg your pardon," he said.
Weary's eyes were tearful, too. Weary was crying because of horrible pains in his feet. The hinged clogs were transforming his feet into blood puddings.
At each road intersection Billy's group was joined by more Americans with their hands on top of their haloed heads. Billy had smiles for them all. They were moving like water, downhill all the time, and they flowed at last to a main highway on a valley's floor. Through the valley flowed a Mississippi of humiliated Americans. Tens of thousands of Americans shuffled eastward, their hands clasped on top of their heads. They sighed and groaned.
What amazes me about this passage is that Billy Pilgrim is smiling the whole time. He's marching for miles and miles with his hands clasped on top of his head. When he bumps into Roland, he politely excuses himself, as if he's in the ticket line for a movie. And when he sees new people, Billy greets them with more smiles. I almost expect him to call out, "Welcome aboard!"
Perhaps Billy's smile is a byproduct of his time hopping. He has a larger vision. He knows what the past, present, and future hold. Or maybe it's just Billy's natural disposition. He's a friendly guy. For the most part, I'm known for being a pretty positive person, too. At work, I'm the life of the office. Always joking and laughing. Just the other day, a coworker said to me, "Can you just be here all the time? You make me so happy."
My good mood is a conscious choice. I have to work at it. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you already know that I have a penchant for dark moods and reflections. I am not a happy person most of the time. I worry. Fret. Brood. Dwell. Brood some more. That's more my natural state.
Yet, I am good at making people smile. When I need to, I can put aside my personal trials to help a friend in distress. And that's a gift, I think. I love making others feel better. That's why, when I give readings, I read a lot of humorous poems. I enjoy the laughter.
Tonight, Saint Marty is thankful for the smiles in his life. They blow away the cobwebs, bring in fresh air.