SMILE (words by Turner and Parsons)
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile
* * *
Feeling inside myself today, I decided to take a walk around a nearby lake to gain perspective. It’s a rather large, irregular-shaped lake with graceful winding paths around its roughly one-mile perimeter–perfect for pedestrians and joggers to stretch their legs and fill their lungs with fresh air. It’s easy for your mind to wander as the path takes you near the water’s edge where you can spot cormorants diving for fish, over small bridges where children play in the stream underneath, or up and down hills that roll underneath scatterings of trees chilling out in the mid-morning sun. It is so engaging, you might not realize as you make your way around that the entire lake is man-made. For all intents and purposes, it is an illusion, but a lovely one nonetheless. People are drawn to this place. It is almost always packed–weekends and weeknights especially so–with families picnicking, children playing, seniors chatting on park benches, lovers nuzzled on blankets scattered like daisies across sun-lit grass.
As I walk around the lake, I allow myself to unravel. I shift my attention from my feet and the immediate space before them and gradually take in the view. With each person I pass, I take notice of their facial expressions. I look for the occasional smile, for the one-in-ten person who will make eye contact and nod a ‘hello.’ They are there, but still a rarity. After my first lap around, I feel I need more–not the walking, but the human connection. There are stone faces aplenty as people stare into nothingness or zone out through the wire plugs pumping music into their ears. So many brick walls stand between us as we all make our way–those of us walking alone, those who are coupled with another and still alone. I know in my heart that it is all an illusion. This facade, so man-made. I know that everyone here is just like me… all we need is one little spark and we would all feel that thing that we all need.
Short of that, I play the innocent voyeur and live vicariously through what positive energy I do see. I smile as little children giggle hysterically, training their parents to chase after them. I gently step aside as an elderly couple make their way past me, steadying each other, arm-in-arm, safely shuffling by. I feel their warmth and want to be a part of it. And so, I finally step outside myself and offer a big smile and a “Good Morning!” The little woman looks up at me with a knowing twinkle in her eyes and smiles. She doesn’t say anything but conveys nonetheless that we have connected. I pass a middle-aged couple standing off to the side of the path, each staring lead-faced out over the water. I am within a couple of feet of them and offer a bright “Good Morning” to the woman. Her face immediately softens and she gives me a most genuine smile in return and echoes the sentiment. Its affect reverberates within me–how cold her face was before the hello and how warm it was afterwards. That was enough to convince me. From there on I actively set out to say hello to everyone I passed. I spun around to offer amusing anecdotes to couples or groups of people I encountered and interrupted my walk on occasion to have short conversations with people who were alone. It was such an amazing walk, I almost hated to leave.
Now, this is not big news that we can affect each other in negative as well as positive ways. We all know this. But sometimes we get so stuck inside ourselves we forget that we are missing something terribly important. Human connection. We are not all our troubles, our concerns, our crazy, busy routine. We are loving, human beings who are at our best when we are igniting and expanding positive energy–not just for the benefit of the world but for our own benefit as well. We know we should be kinder, warmer, gentler, but we keep getting hung up. We get so disconnected that we don’t even give ourselves those very things we need. I guess this little walk just reminded me that in order to get the positive energy we need, we have to be the catalyst that sets it all in motion.
Stone faces have been known to collapse from the weight of it–the mighty presence of a smile. And the affect on yourself? Well, you’ll see the sun come shining through… if you… just… smile.