Joyfully Wrinkled

unnamed (1)Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.  ~ Mother Teresa

We receive a weekly magazine that rounds up the news of the world, condenses it, offers helpful graphics, and adds a collection of art, film, restaurant and book reviews in a reasonably tidy and fairly impartial fashion. On one page, in a sidebar, it offers a few tidbits from tabloids, I think in an effort to leaven all the “serious” updates reminding us that the world is dark and dangerous.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a paragraph about a British woman, now 50, who has avoided smiling “for the last 40 years…to ward off wrinkles.” She says she didn’t smile when her child was born, nor at family celebrations or gatherings with friends, insisting her lack of facial wrinkles has made these efforts worthwhile.

I guess this silliness, which I might otherwise have dismissed with a laugh (deepening my own considerable wrinkles), has lingered in my thoughts because it’s reminded me how many times smiles have made a difference in my life.

DSCF6412Like many women my age, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy offering care to dependent, or dying members of my various tribes, those chosen and inherited, and I’m so grateful for the times a smile has saved my spirit, utterly.

It’s hard to believe in a world where people insist everything costs something, but a smile has more potential power to change a life than few things, if any thing, money can buy. I know this was true for my mother, during all the long years she cared for my father following his stroke. She would tell me story after story of the kindnesses friends and strangers had offered that brightened her days, which could be very dark indeed. And when a nurse, or doctor, or insurance adjuster or gas station attendant–whoever intersected her hectic, often harrowing days—shared a smile, it seemed to ease her burdens so profoundly that she’d “save” these stories to tell me when I visited her.

013Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.  ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

And there are so very many times each day that my family, friends, 4-leggeds, students, observations, memories, and views from the window or along the trail invite my smiles that I can’t imagine holding back the impulse in order to prevent wrinkles. Smiling makes me happy, as Thích Nhất Hạnh says, or perhaps makes me appreciate more deeply all the sources of joy that exist here and now in my life.

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DSCF3582Keeping vigils at a hospital bedsides, feeling overwrought with worries, enduring losses, suffering harsh treatment by someone for something…we all have moments when a passing smile would ease our hearts. We walk and drive by people every day in need of our smiles. And so often, it seems, our own concerns prevent us from making the effort to offer this gift, which can relieve our own miseries as well. If only for a moment, a smile offers breathing space to both giver and receiver.

2.26.11 002It reminds me of Jacob Marley’s despair, when he realizes, too late, the differences he could have made in the lives surrounding and connected to his own:

 “It is required of every man,” the Ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world — oh, woe is me! — and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness… Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Late August to late September 09 026So the unsmiling, unwrinkled woman will, I guess, look very beautiful when she dies, appearing years younger than she actually is, but how sad that no one will recall how her smile brightened their day, changed their lives, or lifted their spirits.

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Let us go forth and smile, joyfully wrinkled and wrinkled by joy!

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13 thoughts on “Joyfully Wrinkled

    • Ha, ha! Murphy always makes us smile, Shimon; it’s true. he creates a lot of happy wrinkles, but does seem pretty careful about avoiding them on his own sweet face…I’m pretty sure he chuckles a bit, though. I’ve heard him, when he tricks me into funny position searching for his favorite toys. 🙂

  1. What a foolish woman. I have lots of smile lines. I’m proud of them. And I’ve learned that laughter lessens pain.
    We all make choices and reap the consequences. I’d like to hear from her family…

  2. Well, I’d rather look like one of your happy trolls any day, with a huge grin on my face, than end up looking like a shop manikin!!! I’ve heard it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile……I was shocked to hear about about that woman, good grief, the effort it must take to keep a pan face, nowt stranger than folk eh….beauty is only skin deep, and laughter lines make a face.
    How good to see all the smiles here, darn and confound it, you’ve gone and given me a whole new set of wrinkles!!!
    The cats and pooches are adding insult to injury…….sighs I, running off for some wrinkle cream….xxx

    • Yes, and it must certainly take great effort to avoid smiling when the impulse visits…Love you, Dina, and am grateful for all the wrinkles you send my way. Treasures, they are. 🙂

  3. I can’t even imagine thinking the way that old woman did…Never smiling? How bizarre! What good will beauty do you after you are dead? So for me keep the smiles coming and wrinkles be damned…It’s all part of aging and not something to be shunned. There is a story to go with every line we gain as time passes. All the babies look well and happy 🙂 Great pics Kitty. I am assuming that is perhaps your sister? Your smiles look so similar…Ironic no? Be at peace and keep smiling 🙂 VK ❤

    • Thank you, VK; I’m growing fond of my wrinkles. 🙂 I don’t have a sister, just lovely brothers, but in the first picture, I’m next to one of my wonderful sister-in-laws. Blessed by two. 🙂

      Thank you for visiting and taking time from your busy schedule: gentle peace to your new day!

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