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How To Smile In A Pandemic ?

How To Smile In A Pandemic ?

Yes, how?

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

I have this habit of smiling at strangers. It varies from a small smile to an elderly couple, a playful one to a child or a full blown grin at a dog (and if the dog parent is cute, he gets one too).

Over the last few weeks, the world has been hit by a force much larger than what we could ever anticipate. I am going to avoid getting into the gory details of all the repercussions, but one thing that will probably stay for a while are masks. People will continue covering their faces for a long time to come. Rightfully so.

So apart from the obvious of not falling sick, what good can come off of this?

A few days ago, I stepped out to buy a loaf of bread from a store about a block away from my apartment. For a moment there I forgot that the world was suffering and we were in the middle of a global crisis. I smiled at people as I walked along, only to get blank stares in return. This is not something that normally happens, I’ve always had people respond. And it suddenly dawned on me that they can not see my face! They don’t know I’m smiling under my mask.

I went up to the store, looked at the familiar face of the cheerful bread-seller and smiled.

And that’s when I noticed it.

He smiled back at me with his eyes.

This lovely pleasant expression that overflowed from the upper half of his face. The crows feet next to his eyes, the wrinkles on his forehead and the slight raise of his mask on the bridge of his nose. Everything I needed to know at that moment, the response I was looking for in the elderly person I have come to care about over the years, was in his eyes.

Photo by zainab mlongo on Unsplash

On my way back, I made it a point to have a similar expression on my face as I passed by people. To my utter surprise, I saw it! I noticed the smiles on everyone’s faces, albeit covered.

And what a wonderful feeling of joy!

I continued doing this everytime I stepped out and to my absolute delight, the pattern continued.

Smile! Smile till you can read people’s expressions and the skip in their step.

We will learn to pay attention to the little details we otherwise miss, tune into deeper senses of recognition and human understanding.

Lesser words can have more expression.


How To Smile In A Pandemic ? was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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