This I Believe

Stasha - Candler, North Carolina
Entered on November 17, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: good & evil

I have always longed to touch people’s lives but once wondered how I would do this. It seemed to me that only people like Mother Theresa made a significant difference in the lives of others. However, a friend made me realize that ordinary people can touch lives too. She helped me to believe in the power of a smile.

This friend, Sandy, had been killed in a car accident and I had reluctantly attended her funeral; I knew that coming to grips with her death wouldn’t be easy. Despite my anxieties, I went and I am glad I went. I saw mourners pack every available space in chairs, along stairways, and in balconies; seeing this made me realize she had touched many. I saw the mourners’ recognition as the preacher reminisced about her joyful face, and then I realized how she had touched so many; she had smiled.

Sandy’s smile had been as constant as the sun rise. I can recall greeting Sandy between classes, chatting with her at lunch, and talking with her after school. All of these times, she had been smiling. I can recall the last time that I saw Sandy; even then, she had been smiling. Sandy’s smile melted away people’s cares and fears, allowing her to touch people at the very center of their hearts. Her smile was never half-hearted or subtle; her smile was vibrant, carefree, and inviting. When Sandy walked into a room with her pearly whites beaming, you felt you had found your new best friend. I wanted to touch people like Sandy had, and so I decided that I would do what she had done, and smile.

Once I began to smile at people, I learned why Sandy had so many friends; smiling makes forming friendships easier. A smile signals someone open-minded with good intentions, the type of person that people feel comfortable talking to and are quick to greet. I learned that if I am unsure of what to say, my smile does the talking for me. My smile often encourages others to speak first. A smile is also an invitation for compliments and the compliments help to reaffirm my belief in the power of a smile; they say to me, “You’re making me feel good so I want to make you feel good too.”

However, perhaps the time my belief was most strongly reaffirmed was the time my aunt Linda said, “You know, your grandmother told me she loves to see a smile on your face. She said that when you’re smiling, you seem so happy and you make everyone else around you happy too, you know that?” When she said that, I was reminded of Sandy. I remembered how happy she had made me when she smiled so yes, I know.