I attended a party last week and I must have been scowling (which I do when I’m thinking) because a fellow guest asked me to smile at least three times.
Since I’ve never smiled on cue, unless I’m having my picture taken and want to look friendly, I resisted. In fact, I may have become less cheerful wondering why she might think I wasn’t having a good time, or wasn’t joining the group, or was unappreciative of the fun everyone was having.
When I told my daughter that someone evidently thought I was looking crabby even though I was feeling mellow, she reminded me that I was born with a frown that could easily be misconstrued, and that I did seem grumpier than usual. “When?” I asked. “ In 2017,” she said.
So, even though I gave up making new year resolutions, I compiled a list of things determined to elicit my smile. I want to be viewed as content; who could be happy at this time in history? So I developed a system. I knew that if I could:
- get rid of the arthritis in my left knee, I could demonstrate more energy and transmit cheerfulness;
- discourage my daughter’s urge to make plans to help me in my old age. I’d probably smile in relief, especially if she gave up the idea of managing my finances;
- remember where I put my glasses and could see how to back the car into the garage, I would grin in self congratulations;
- update my hearing aids so that I could actually hear the punch line of jokes, I would laugh aloud;
- retrieve all my old friends either from the great beyond or from dementia, I would cheer open-mouthed. One can’t cheer without smiling;
- encourage people to let me change the world, just as I intended and tried to do for over 60 years, I would at least smirk a little, which is a little like a smile;
- be less judgmental about bigotry, the misuse of power, ignorance and selfishness, I might smile smugly about the will-power I’ve displayed.
Smiling is tricky business. If I manage to seem more cheerful in 2018, would it look like I didn’t understand the human condition? It has occurred to me that if I smile a lot, I might raise suspicions about my motives.
On the other hand, as I enter my 88th year, the smile might have people inferring that I had lost touch with reality.
Though it doesn’t show, some of us are smiling inside to keep from crying about our inability to bring back the good old days.
So, if it looks like I’m not smiling, please consider the things that bring smiles to me, but aren’t visible to the whole world.
I smile at well-turned phrases, written or spoken. I smile at honest politicians. I smile at people who understand that opinion is one thing and facts are another. I smile at kindness to animals. I smile over a tasty meal. I smile at conversation that doesn’t include grandchildren, health and travels. I smile at self-aggrandizement unless it hurts other people.
I think the human race is very amusing even when they don’t intend to be. If I didn’t laugh at myself, I’d die of embarrassment. I resolve to let my internal smile become visible during 2018 … if events don’t get even more serious.
I smile every morning when I wake up and discover that I am alive, even though there are some doubts by the end of the day.