Smile Damnit / by charles desrochers

I had an entry in mind for today that was based on smiling. The other day I was walking across the street and I saw a girl smiling. I wasn’t having the best of days but for some reason when I saw this seemingly nice attractive women smiling it made me happy. I started grinning.

My mood was better and before I had a moment to realize what had happened I was sitting in my car thinking about these wonderful memories like the time I first caught a wave on a boogie board or when I proposed to my ex-fiance. That’s powerful stuff. Imagine making someone’s day better by curling your lips up and showing your teeth? Can it be that it’s actually that simple to bring a gentle thought into someone’s mind?

I just heard some bad news today. It doesn’t involve me personally but it does involve the people that I love. It’s a weird feeling when you’re removed from a situation enough that it doesn’t break you but you’re close enough so that you feel this empathic sadness for others. In a way it’s refreshing because it shows that your feelings can exist outside of the bubble you’ve created for yourself. It’s easy to cry when you lose someone close to you. What’s rarer these days is crying when your friend loses someone.

I can only speak to my own experience on this matter but it made a difference when my friends would approach me with offers of condolences and looks that they were genuine. Sadly at a place like a funeral there’s a bit too much of it so the survivors are left numb from the crying and the frowns. When it first happened what I was actually looking for was someone who had a semblance of what I was going through. It made me feel better when someone didn’t try and say that they knew what I was going through but showed me that they cared enough for me to at least be there.

There’s nothing we can do about these times in life. I spoke with a friend today who was more effected by this recent event than I and the only conclusion we could come up with was that “these things happen,” “such is life” and “what can you do?” That’s what brings me to smiles.

When we heard the news, his friend and I had polar reactions to the news. He was in a bad mood and almost crying. The tiniest things were aggravating and the top priority in his mind was how he could best reach his friend who had just lost a brother. I on the other hand avoided the issue. I talked about the difference between LA and the East Coast. I talked about the homeless, the weather, the culture, the vastness of the city and the breadth of variety it has to offer. The only time I would say something about this somewhat mutual acquaintance was in reference to my own friend, he had lost someone this day and though they weren’t nearly as close as they once were it is a shame that there wouldn’t be that opportunity to make amends.

Smiling.

Smiling is a powerful thing. Maybe you’re the kind of person who can’t help but laugh nervously at a funeral or grin like a freak when being scolded. It’s a natural reaction some people have because certain situations had gotten too much for them and they needed the light-hearted tone to return to the conversation. I smile. That’s what I do. When I’m not in a good mood I smile and when I’m afraid or nervous I smile. It’s a form of charity in a way, the best kind really. I don’t know if my smile has the same effect on people the same way that women’s did but if it manages to lift someone’s spirits from the kind of day that my friend may be having than it’s the least I can do. It’s free and takes little to no effort. If you smile while you walk down the street in Los Angeles there might be 200 cars that drive by you. Even if you hit 1% of those cars with your smile bullets then isn’t that worth it? By walking for ten minutes with a smile on your face you’ve managed to make two people’s days better.

Who knows? Maybe while their stuck in traffic they’ll keep that grin on their face and then another person will see in and they’ll smile. Maybe the bus next to them sees both of your smiles and they all start smiling. Now you have this capsule of smiles, this virus of happy waiting to be sent out into the world and each of them will get two people. Maybe they’ll get a connection bus or better yet on the metro and now with them waiting at the platform you’ve passed on these happy sniffles to a quarter of the city.

Maybe one of those hundreds or thousands of people just lost their job. Maybe they’re going through a divorce with someone they still love. Maybe they just heard that a once good friend died in a car accident back home. Isn’t it worth ten minutes of your life, knowing that you helped one person today in such an important way? Why wouldn’t you smile?