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Smiling instructions…

Note: In honor of Christmas day, I’m not blogging. Or, maybe I’m just lazy. Either way, here’s something I wrote a while back that seems to fit pretty well into a blog about the mind. Enjoy. And, happy holidays!

Wikihow has a whole page full of smiling instructions, to whit: Begin your smile with your eyes. If you find that every time you try to smile with your mouth, you look like you’re faking it or, worse, like you’re in pain, you may find it useful to look in a mirror and smile only with your eyes. Once your eyes are smiling, they tend to pull your whole face (including your mouth) into a natural, beautiful smile.

Hmm. Good advice, I guess, but I’ve got better. Here’s what you do. Close your eyes. Feel your feet on the ground. Realize that you’re connected to everything else on the surface of the planet by dust and rock and old bone and ancient water, plants long dead, pipes, tunnels, veins of sweet precious ore, the cookie someone dropped.

Breathe the air. Really breathe it. Keep those eyes closed and consider the miracle of breathing. Oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide. Helium, neon, water vapor. The distant scent of a bird. Clouds. Old lady perfume. You’re taking in 15,000 quarts of air every day. Some of us take a little more. Some of us are nice enough to take a little less, just to leave some for everyone else. Those air molecules — they’ve touched those same bits of dust and rock and water upon which you stand. Take them in. Make them part of you. Some day, you can give them back to the ground. Hold them for now. Appreciate the gift for what it is.

Open your eyes. Take a step. Feel all your muscles work. Give thanks to the ground for supporting you. Feel your foot in the air, that same air you breathe. Put it back on the ground. Do it again. Look around and take it all in. What do you see? If you look with the right kind of eyes you can see into the future, or back into the past, because it’s all the same, the same dust and rock and carbon and oxygen and leaves and sky and sun.

What’s NOT miraculous about that? What’s ordinary about being a little machine that takes plants and muscle and a fusion of hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and neon and turns it into another sweet step, foot in the air, foot on the ground, foot in the air… how can that not be the most amazing thing that you could be a part of?

Just for fun, for laughs, for pure appreciation of the complicated crazy once-in-a-million-years quirk of the universe you are, with the sheer force of your will, induce a chemical reaction in your brain to send electrical signals down the infinite hard-traveled miles of your nervous system to constrict some of the muscles of your beautiful face.


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