CLEVELAND, Ohio — I’m presuming most people don’t know what today is. Fact is, I might not have known either had I not bumped into information about this day on the internet. Yet I couldn’t allow this Friday to pass without my hoping everybody else honors it.
No, October 7 isn’t some tragic day to commemorate. Nor is it a day that will force you to dip into your wallet. Instead, the day is an occasion to celebrate something less tangible: a smile.
Yep, it’s “World Smile Day,” which happens annually the first Friday each October.
I’d say Americans have reasons to smile. Consider for a second what we have in life. Rather, think what our life might be had it gone down the other fork on this long, twisty road.
My thoughts center there now and again, mostly as dreams that come and go. I think about the peers I’ve lost — close friends, whose deaths shook me; they all had more living to do.
From those lost camaraderies, I recall the pleasure each of them brought me, the joys from their brotherhoods and sisterhoods. I remember, too, occasions when we would sit and laugh, cry and, occasionally, scream at one another.
When the screaming ceased, the laughter resumed, which proved kinder to our bodies than the unhealthiness of yelling. (What good did the yelling do anyhow?)
I’ve come to see life as a daily comedy, my sitcom of sorts. Much of it is hard to grasp; some of it borders on the ridiculous. These oft-public performances have given me the best of living one minute, the worst of it the next.
The uncertainty leaves me little choice but to smile at it all.
I’ll smile a lot today. I’ll smile as I thank store clerks for whatever generosity they might pour on me. Theirs might be a nod or a kindly word; theirs could be a toothsome grin.
I’ll smile through whatever pain I might feel, smile through whatever darkness that visits me on this day. For I know, better than most others, why I ought to smile and why I will.
What I do have are madcap, generous friends; they make me smile. What I do have are siblings and cousins who, through their eccentricities, make me smile. What I do have is a short list of worries, which if I can’t smile about that, then I can’t smile about much.
As World Smile Day winds down, I plan to have more smiles than any other look. I intend to leave home with one etched across my face, like the look you see on the funniest circus clowns.
Mine, though, will be genuine.
I’m not going to bounce about town pretending to enjoy life when I have no reason to pretend. I’m going to settle into my happiness. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, hopeful I carry it over into Saturday, Sunday and beyond.
I have survived life’s downs, and I’d call that a wonderful reason to remain upbeat.
So on this Friday, I’ll be flush with smiles. I pray they’ll prove infectious.
Justice B. Hill grew up and still lives on the city’s East Side. He practiced journalism for more than 25 years before settling into teaching at Ohio University. He quit May 15, 2019, to write and globetrot. He’s doing both.
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