I love smile. Any smile, anyone’s smile. Laughing faces make me happy. Smile makes my day. Whenever I take pictures, I try to make my friends laugh. That probably leads to a series of monotonic photos. But I can’t help, they look so beautiful when they laugh. Earlier, so many of them would refuse to laugh because they thought their teeth are not perfect or their smiles are not pretty. I had a hard time convincing them that smiles are by default pretty. People always recognize me by my huge grin. I love when they say ‘your smile never fades, just like the old days!’. It’s almost impossible to find a picture of me where I am not flashing my big bright fangs. But that day something curious happened. We girls were checking the pictures of our post-sleepover photo session and I picked out one with my usual grin, saying ‘this one’s good’. My friends grudgingly said ‘it’s the saddest smile of yours, and you never stop dawning it!’. Apparently they always hated that usual grin of mine.
I was surprised. We did have read about different smiles in literature – villainous smile, victorious smile, smile of relief, nervous giggle, tiny smile, big grin, including this sad smile -the way people suppose to smile in sorrow. But how does that look? Has anyone ever seen a sad smile? I came home and looked at my picture again; a perfect frame of three beautiful girls laughing, their faces beaming in sunlight, eyes shining bright.. well, not all of them. I took a closer look at my eyes. A pair of big eyes surrounded by moderately dense lashes, deep dark circles, some soft wrinkle lines at the corners, a pair of black pupils staring at me from their glistening off-white nest – beautiful, tired and so, so sad. When was the last time I noticed my eyes? They are always lost in the crowd of liner, locks and sunny smiles. Suddenly all the eyes behind those beautiful smiles over years opened wide in my memory; they opened in joy, amusement, nonchalance, indifference, tiredness, pain, and so much pain. Suddenly smiles weren’t making me happy anymore. I got cautious afterwards; now I had to be careful of my eyes as well because I was determined to never smile a sad smile. And I did succeed, for weeks; I always remained aware of my mood and put extra effort to trim out any sign of exhaustion or sadness (simple doodling excercise, not at all difficult). But I couldn’t do it without getting even more tired. It seemed that my happy smile made me more sad than my sad smile.
I sat down again, reviewing my smiling strategy, and I heard myself: strategy. I was strategizing to smile. Smiling was no longer a spontaneous expression for me, but an act of force and calculation. In reality, I stopped smiling because I got scared of sadness. That day a very important lesson got clearer to me; lesson against the popular school of self-help theories like ‘happiness is a choice’ or ‘stop complaining and keep smiling’. No one can choose to be happy if they are sad. And no one can smile a happy smile if they are trying not to cry. I started smiling again, my old sad spontaneous smile which I always loved. Smile made me happy again- happy smile, sad smile, angry or tired smile, all those smiles over years. Smile’s got power. Smile is resilience. But only if we embrace our heart and let the pain flow through our soul. Pain can’t be outrun or shut down. And only pain is powerful enough to bring back lost smile. So let’s cry, let’s plunge in sorrow, let’s get resentful and angry, let’s fight and bleed, let’s get tired and feel nothing, let’s break down. And then, let’s smile a little.