I made it
in plenty of time.
the tension, Kenneth, you’ve got to build the tension)
On the walk
back, it was 5.15 on Friday and that 'Friday Feeling' came over me. I was just
about done for the week and Friday evening beckoned like a nice person beckoning.
work on those similes too, Kenneth).
I was walking back through the car park and thinking about finishing up for the
day. I would get some chicken fillets from Anthony the Butcher and some burger
buns and lettuce and tomatoes and potatoes-for-wedges and some beers for my
one-beer-of-the-week. Then I would go home and put some music on and make
dinner while everybody else was out walking or doing whatever. Then, around seven thirty
or so, we would sit and eat, constructing our own personalized chicken fillet
burgers from the array of stuff on the table.
And, as I
thought about this, as I looked forward very much to it, something unusual happened,
right there in the car park.
Hang on. Don’t let me give you the impression that I never
smile. I do. I reckon I smile quite a lot, but they are different kinds of smiles.
You know what I mean. We smile in response to other smiles; we smile at
something on telly or on our phone. We smile to deflect and encourage and to hide
But this type of smile was rare. A spontaneous, uncalled-for
smile from nowhere. It surprised me; I don’t mind telling you.
And that smile got me thinking.
What a strange beast I am, that I can smile broadly in the
middle of the car park while all of the shit in the world continues, just like
it always does. What right is there for me to be smiling while such god-awful things are
happening all over the place and right here on the home front too.
I got to wondering: how do we manage it? This smiling thing. Is it resilience?
Are we so weathered and tough that literally nothing can keep us down forever?
Or is it that we are so inherently selfish and uncaring that, no matter what is
happening around us, something good in our own little world will always make us happy?
And there has been so much trouble and quite a bit of pain. I
don’t need to run through the worldwide stuff with you, you all know that well enough
yourselves. And the more private stuff, well, it’s not for blogs is it? Not this
morning, at least.
So why smile?
I thought about it and I didn’t come to the conclusion that it is a negative thing, this penchant for a smile. I actually think it’s pretty good.
I don’t think it’s because we’re overly selfish or impervious or uncaring, though we all have a measure of those things in us. I think it’s more that we all subconsciously know that we are all in this together and that pain and sorry and anxiety and… just… trouble is all around the corner for all of us. We may not be in trouble today but we will be one day, as sure as eggs is eggs.
That guy in Gladiator kind of put his finger on it when
he spoke to his deceased friend, “I will see you again but not yet. Not yet.”
As adults we mourn the loss of those who have died. And if that was a fate solely
for them then it might be even harder to bear. But it isn’t. As adults, we know
that we are all going to go the same way, we are all bound to die. In the same
way as we know that whatever level of trouble and pain someone is having, we
all know we will have our own share of that cake on some future day.
So we smile. Not because we do not care but because we do.
We’re most likely only here once and we’re most likely not going
anywhere much after we’re here. So we should just embrace the good moments when we get
them, any time that we are able. There are hurdles and ditches aplenty ahead.
Some we’ll get over; some we’ll crawl through somehow but some we will not.
But for now, it’s Friday afternoon. That letter is safe in
the postbox and the prospect of a homemade chicken fillet burger and my one beer
of the week beckons warmly.
“Not yet. Not yet.”
Just once, a long time ago, I asked my Twitter people what I should write about here
because I didn’t have any ready ideas for that week. I got only one reply, from my
good friend John, who said that I should write about the importance of a smile.
In that particular week, I couldn’t think of anything to say on that subject so
I wrote something else, God knows what.
So maybe this one’s for you, John - and, of course, for anyone else who wants it.
The world may be in a state of chassis, as the man said, but
we can still allow ourselves our little smiles whenever they come to us unbidden.
We deserve them.