For many of us at ClimateMama, smiling seems harder and harder to do these days. Hurricanes, earthquakes, shootings, humanitarian crises, food and water shortages, human rights trampled, and the list goes on. In fact the list seems so long these days, that our natural reaction has been to “shut down” completely, tuning off and tuning out. We realize too, that while some of us may have this luxury, too many of us don’t. The boogey man is knocking at the door and our hiding places are few and far between. But, regardless of where we live, how we live, or who we are, the act of smiling is human, and it is humane. Smiling is a critical human connection that we must not forget how to do.
These days, often what truly makes me smile, what makes me stop and be in the moment – just for a moment – is my dog, Ivy. When I watch her, as she intently watches the busy squirrels and chipmunks that are racing to get ready for the winter season, everything else seems to fade away. I can hear the birds, I can see the leaves, I can smell mother earth. I live in the northeastern USA, where it is “technically” fall. Yet the daily temperatures, which are regularly in the ’80’s make it feel much more like summer. This too causes me stress, and increases my anxieties about our changing climate. Mother Nature, while angry, also reminds us of the annual cycles, and the leaves in our neighborhood are beginning to change color. The animals, birds and insects, while confused, are also busily preparing for winter.
According to the World Smile Day website (yes there is such a thing!) “Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts created the smiley face in 1963. As the years passed Harvey Ball became concerned about the over-commercialization of his symbol, and how its original meaning and intent had become lost in the constant repetition of the marketplace. Out of that concern came his idea for World Smile Day. He thought that we, all of us, should devote one day each year to smiles and kind acts throughout the world. The smiley face knows no politics, no geography and no religion. Harvey’s idea was that for at least one day each year, neither should we. In 1999, he declared that the first Friday in October each year would be World Smile Day.”
So, while we try to remain sane in what continues to be a very insane world, take time out to remember to smile, to be extra kind to someone, and to be kind to yourself.
What makes you smile? What brings down your anxiety, who or what calms your nerves and gives you hope and comfort? We need to remind ourselves of these special “totems” and channel them, as the insanities and injustices of the day continue to be an onslaught that just keep coming. It remains up to us, to remind ourselves, our families, our children and even completes strangers that compassion and hope do reside in each of us. Smile at a stranger today, hug your children extra tight, give your dog a belly rub, and keep your climate hope alive.
Happy World Smile Day,