somewhere between the kinder years and my high school years, i lost my smile. i can't remember the exact moment i misplaced it. i don't even remember knowing it was missing for so many of those years until our little, intimate high school got a new principal. mr. tim taylor was his name.
he was different. he noticed me. he saw me and he peeled me out of the wallpaper.
he won me with a smile was all. i remember the day. i had to hand in a form in the office. i shuffled it across the secretary's desk, avoiding all eye contact and turning quickly to disappear. but he looked right at me and said, 'where's your smile? the world's not all that bad, is it?" i awkwardly forced a half-hearted smirk and left. he had no idea the weight of world i was carrying but somehow he made it just a little bit lighter, even if it was awkward.
the next time i passed him in the hall, he stopped me and asked me where that smile had gone again. i smiled a little bigger this time. and a very strange feeling began on the inside. like warm camomile tea welling up from deep down. i can't really describe it, even all these years later. maybe it was relief. maybe it was hope, that the world wasn't all that bad after all? hope invincible. hope undeterred. i let it rise up from some indestructible force inside and my countenance changes. i let it radiate out my eyes and i am saved all over again.
i still get that feeling. whenever things get really bad, and my soul dips low. when i'm feeling blackened and bruised inside from ugly confrontations or perceived rejection, i'll find myself in some public place, at the gas station or grocery store, i swallow my need to wallow and instead put on the biggest smile i can find. i smile so big that it's almost inappropriate, not at all paying homage to whatever carnage i've just come from. i joke with the cashier about something or am eager to help someone with kindness. and they look me in the eye and smile back big. it's then i find my smile muscles haven't atrophied and as long as i can still find that light hearted, humour-filled smile, then i'm going to be ok. and my face assures my soul, i'm going to make it after all. :)
that mr. taylor, who i will never get the chance to properly thank, made me a cope-er. a heels dug in, roots down deep hope-er. he helped me find my smile and that smile, has saved me over and over again. he helped me turn my insular world outward. helped me focus on something other than myself. and for that, i am ever grateful. ever cheerful.
"a cheerful look brings joy to the heart."
"be joyful in hope, patient in affliction."