Finding a smile!

It was one of those sucky work days … the type that seems to suck all the life out of your soul and leaves you a pale shadow of the person that began the morning full of energy.

Typically on the end of one of those, temptation is just to retire away onto the sofa; rest, eat, relax, and eventually bed.

But in doing that, we are just giving up on the day and waiting for it to be over. But armed with my trail buddy, we decided instead to head on a late-afternoon trail and the thought of spending the final hour or two of daylight wandering along the edge of Lake Hancock was enough to motivate us into action.

By the time we got there, there were only a few isolated cars left around and the sign on the gate said they would be locking it in about an hour and a half.

Could we cover the ground in that time and still make it a meaningful moment with camera? Yes, we believed we could and so we set out briskly down the late-evening path.

As it turned out, we needn’t have worried … by the time we got back to the car we still had ten minutes on the clock and our bellies full of wonderful images to gorge our souls with.

We were accompanied initially by a young, camera-shy raccoon in the tall grasses at the side of the trail, but I did manage to get one good shot of her lovely little face. And several sightings of herons, and alligators, were delightfully interspersed with encounters with a wonderful Hawk (directly over my head), a wakening owl, singing osprey, and a delightful little armadillo sunning his backside in the warmth of the falling sun.

I hope you enjoy this little collection!

I think my favorite is the obscure view of the hawk where he looks just like a round ball of feathers. Odd perspectives are really fun to do sometimes.

In any event, we made it back on the road home before the padlock got thrown onto the gate, and as we drove away in excited conversation, it was clear that both our souls had been replenished.

And I couldn’t help but think of the millions of people around the world that go through their work-lives feeling drained at the end of their days, without the opportunity to replenish. And I felt sad for them all.

Work is necessary, obviously, and it does serve to provide a good focus and discipline in our lives. But it also robs us. It takes away our energies, often hides our individuality, and casts a shadow on our soul.

Without the ability to replenish, we begin each next day a little less of a person than we were the day before. The realities of life and commitments often makes it impossible to replenish during the week and it transfers that responsibility into the weekend.

But even then it competes with chores, family, and other commitments. And oftentimes, it loses out in those priorities.

I think this is why over time, the childish smiles and wonder that once lit up our faces in our youth, evolve into frowns and seriousness by the time we are stuck in the realities of a work life.

And have you ever noticed how a simple smile can make you look years younger than your unsmiling (or god-forbid, sad) self? Me personally … when I stand in front of a mirror, I can see a five or ten year difference on my face depending on whether it has a smile or not.

And so we need to realize that others around us see our mirror-face. If there is a smile missing from it then we look older and sadder and we in turn steal their smiles. So then they look old to us!

If I am right, then the importance of doing something that puts a smile on our faces, is not something that can be deferred to the weekend. We need to find a smile each and every day.

Personally speaking, the natural world puts a smile on my face like no other activity. I repeatedly marvel at the wonderful little creatures that greet my trail adventures. I soak in the sun rises and sunsets, and my eyes fill my soul with the natural sights or sceneries that surround me.

How could I not smile?

So, I guess what I am trying to say here is that howsoever you can find a smile, find it. Don’t settle for an unsmiling day, even if just for the vanity of trying to look younger to those that have to look at your face each evening!