What is it that human beings have that the other species on our planet do not? I am not talking about intelligence for that is debatable given how we behave like animals ourselves. There is a reason that we have a face with so many minute muscles and nerve strings pulling it into shapes for every reason. The smile has to be one of the most powerful constructs ever made and we humans are past masters at deploying it.
A genuine smile is the window into our innermost secrets. It threatens to expose the good sense and innocence that is hidden deep inside us. We have most certainly noticed that a smile somehow tends to turn the most unfriendly of faces into a portrait of delight and good humor.
There are many smiles that abound of which quite a few are distasteful. The owner of a furtive smile convinces the world that there is something which is perversely amusing to no one else except him (or her). A supercilious variation ensures that the joke is at our expense. A smile laced with sexual overtones appears sickly in front of a cherubic two year old. An exasperated soul transforms a smile into an expression of wanton abandonment to one’s fate. A sly calibrated smile appears loathsome and repugnant to everyone except to its purveyor. A smile purchased from a dentist is worthless while one sewed on by a plastic surgeon is nothing but a mere façade.
The genuine article starts from deep within us and manifests itself in a supreme moment of innocence that we never realize. There is nothing secretive or untoward about it. It is just a sincere expression of a fleeting moment when we are one with the universe. We have nothing to lose and not much to gain by smiling. Why then do we do it? The answer is simple, we cannot help ourselves. It starts as a small mote hidden beneath the oppression of physical and mental barricades. As it expands it starts to radiate warmth that breaks through every layer until it diffuses across our face in seemingly unstoppable fashion. After all a radiant sun is the closest evidence that we can possess of the solar system itself bathing us in its benefaction.
A smile is not just a petty rearrangement of our facial muscles but a deep and abiding proof of an innocent desire to share our happiness with the world at large. It is a positive feeling that has a transcendental effect on its recipients. Most of us will revel in a heartfelt smile because it awakes within us the desire to experience even for an instant the silent lucidity of a blessed mind.
It is pertinent to mention this story about a smile that changed the world:
Two soldiers were sitting on a border talking with each other when they noticed a large dust cloud blowing in from the south. They scurried inside assuming that Mother Nature was up to her usual tricks again. They huddled together inside their tent waiting for the storm to subside. They slept for a long time only to be woken up by harsh words and even harsher spears thrust into their bodies. They sprang up in haste only to realize that they were surrounded by heavily armed men with the thirst of blood high upon them.
The leader of the band of ruffians asked his men to chain the men to some trees and when it was satisfactorily done, he proceed to interrogate them about the deployment of other soldiers near to the border. To his surprise one of the soldiers smiled and just looked through the throng surrounding him. The smile was so inoffensive and charming that the leader could not help it but ask the reason for it. The tied up soldier responded that he suddenly remembered his daughter’s laughing brown eyes and was so comforted by the thought that a smile involuntarily crept over him. He tried his hardest to suppress it given the situation but he failed.
This enraged the leader and he placed his sword at the point of the prisoner’s throat ready to push it in. But to his surprise the smile stayed as it were. He realized that such a pure expression had to have a precedent that was just as beautiful if not more. He felt envious at the soldier’s good fortune when he realized that he had never experienced such a profound feeling of parental love. Envy very soon blossomed into empathy for the father who found time to revel in his daughter’s form even at the point of death. The leader set the men free and returned back in deep contemplation of life itself.
A smile is the coronation of bliss and because it cannot hide itself, it suffuses the environment around it. One might say that a true smile is involuntary and effortless. The lips quiver, the eyes shimmer, nose twitches, cheeks dimple and eventually the face catches up to the feelings sweeping through your body. Is it not wondrous that a smile smoothes your wrinkles, curves your cheek bones, straightens your lips and softens your eyes? It temporarily recasts your face into the very epitome of joy de vivre.
A mother contemplates her baby in a supreme moment of shared ecstasy. A child rejoices in the unimaginable pleasure of being able to walk for the very first time. Friends are interlocked in a feeling which encapsulates their togetherness. In the humdrum existence of our live, we find many moments that light up the path we are travelling upon. These incidents are as fleeting as they are magical.
But have you ever wondered about the smile of a spiritually enlightened soul? The expression is not forced but still they seem to be in eternal contemplation of the bliss that pervades them. A smile in this case is an affirmation of the untold glamour of self realization.
We are often told that we must seek things to smile about. But that is a misappropriation of the truth. Do nothing and a smile will come to you! Let us repose our faith in the unknown just for a micro crossing of the cosmos. Start everyday with no expectations of the life in front of you. End every day by jettisoning the burdens of the day that has already passed you. What do we get? A sum total of nothing! Next time you see a child looking at you with guileless eyes, your own will start to water. A smile from the depths of your soul will reach out and envelop the child with love and happiness. Enjoyment in the joy of small things will teach us about the futility of chasing after the proverbial rainbow.
“Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin,' thought Alice 'but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
A smile by itself clearly means less than it intends. What is the body without a soul? What is a smile without the purpose? Every smile needs to be fetched from a wellspring of timeless enjoyment
I am sure that all of us realize that an undiluted, unalloyed, unforced smile is a priceless treasure and it signifies a singular consciousness of the universe within. It is akin to switching on a lamp inside of our body that gets its energy from mysterious sources outside of our selves. It is a beacon of a better self that is connected to limitless energy in realms far beyond our ken.
A true smile is the gateway to immortality if only for a single transcendental moment.