Wearing a Smile…

Smiling

When I was a child, I watched the Saturday morning TV programme TISWAS.  It stood for ‘Today is Saturday, Watch and Smile’, but should we restrict smiling to just one day..?  I can’t remember how many countries I’ve traveled to, how many cultures I’ve encountered, or how many people I’ve met, but one thing is for sure – a smile goes a long way…

I have a great memory, and can recall meetings, stories and occasions from years ago, but I’m useless when it comes to languages.  Time and time again, I’ve tried to learn, French, German and Spanish, but failed miserably.  It’s not my thing. Ok, so I know a few words, but never enough to hold a conversation.  I’ve always been amazed by folk who pick up a language in weeks, and I’ve learned to cope with my failings and channeled my limited talents into other things. Smiling is one of them…

There are a myriad of research papers into body language, stating this and that about posture and pose, but I just smile. It is one of the most open, friendly and disarming things I can do. If I don’t understand a conversation or a phrase, a smile saves my bacon.

I’m not trying to be patronising, irritating or insulting when I smile. I’m trying to prove one of the most simple things that I can do – be a human being. I’m no automaton, no business orientated drone and no trained animal.  The Roman Playwright Terence once said ‘I am a man; I consider nothing human alien to me’.  Humanity seems at risk in western society as we strive to time, monitor, assess and review every action we undertake.  We wear devices which digitize our movements so that we can download our day, and scrutinise our actions. The world of engineering seems to me filled with companies more interested in figures than its people. I find that incredibly dangerous and sad.  There seems little room to smile.

Recently I was skiing in the Italian Dolomites, which is one of my favourite places in the world.  After a long day on the slopes, conversation around the dinner table was of the telephone Apps people had downloaded.  Figures galore appeared noting how far people had skied, how many calories burned, height lost and height gained.  It thought it was all just a little too robotic. I listened politely and silently smiled.

It’s not that in disinterested in facts and figures, but as a species we have survived millenia without dissolving every last part of our lives onto a spreadsheet.  We have learned through experiment, trial and error and with a little bit of luck.  I’m not saying that we’ve always done a good job, but we haven’t died out yet.  If anything the facts and figures of this world will be the end of us all, as people bicker over targets, expectations and analyse each other to the death.

Whatever happens, I’ll just keep smiling…

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