I’ve been told several times in my life that I smile too much. That I laugh too loudly. That anyone that smiles as much as I do must either be soft or not to be trusted.
I never knew what to say to those pointed statements. The first time I heard it I was in college; a buddy of mine was introducing me to one of his friends that lived in his dorm. He flat out said that he didn’t trust me, I smiled too much, and he walked away. After that, I tried to carry around the seemingly obligatory Black man “mean mug” forcing a scowl in every circumstance regardless of the setting but I always seemed to fail, my urge to smile and the enjoyment of hearing my own laugh always seemed to win out. It certainly kept me out of the cool circles in college but I managed.
As I’ve gotten older life has gotten harder and far less easy to understand, even in the few times when you think you’ve got something figured out. Due to this fact there were times that I didn’t want to smile. It wasn’t the act that I was putting on in school after being shunned by the cool kids; life dealt me genuine “You Should Not Smile” moments. It’s hard to smile when things seem to be unraveling. Unemployment, loss of family members, financial trouble, friends desert you, bills pile up, relationships fail, increasing stress; over the course of this year I’ve experienced all of these and they’ve all caused a great deal of “unsmiling” moments. But for whatever reason, whatever I was downloaded with before I was sent here from some corner of Heaven through my Mother, my smile always seemed to win out. It’s as if that smile and that laugh keep all of the bad things away, like some evil thwarting superpower. It doesn’t always mean that things are perfect but it does let me know that I’m capable of living and enjoying and maintaining despite everything that tries to rip my internal happiness away.
And here comes today, December 12, 2012, or 12/12/12, whatever the pundits are choosing to call this day with the ultra cool date…I simply choose to call it my birthday, yet another reason for me to smile. For all the reasons that this year has given me not to smile, and there have been many, I can only be very grateful that I’ve managed through difficulty, strain, stress, and a good number of tears that I’ve made another journey around the sun and that, my friends, makes me smile again. There’s so much that we should all be grateful for: our families that love us, our friends that support us, our passions that drive us, our wives, our husbands, our girlfriends and boyfriends that hold us. Perhaps the people that say I smile too much and laugh too loudly simply don’t understand how much, despite everything I have to be thankful for and how much joy those things give me.
I have many reasons today to keep smiling, things aren’t perfect in my little slice of Atlanta but none of us were promised the perfect life. So I will continue to smile, to laugh; I’ve simply experienced too much good, been given too much love, and I have simply too much hope for what’s to come not to. Happy birthday to me.
~thanks for reading