It is said that a smile knows no boundaries, that it is universal.
A smile can cross continents and time. It can overcome ugly ideologies, whether they are tied to race, religion, age or sexual observance.
A smile is more mobile than the internet. It connects. It is life’s messenger.
A smile can be decoded at a very early age. Children know whether what they are doing causes concern or earns approval – just by looking at their parents or other adults.
A smile is a language that connects, touches and penetrates because it confirms life. No less than life.
A smile is a smile is a smile. It can be said that simply. It can’t be misunderstood. Naturally, false smiles exist. But such smiles are not really smiles, but rather false smiles. They are assumed, like the Joker’s smile in the Batman comics and films – pasted on. A false smile can seem frightening, because it pokes fun at life. No one knows that better than best-selling suspense author Stephen King, who in his book IT has a clown represent man’s deepest fear. The false smile lacks respect.
A smile is something happy, as well as something serious. It is a love missile that does not seek, but gives, shares. A smile is generous.
A smile comes when it comes, as we say. And indeed it does. But it is possible to cultivate a more smiling approach to life, as when the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh encourages his readers to wake up with a smile on their lips. It is life you are smiling at, from and with. You have awakened, not died in your sleep. You can always smile, because things could be worse. You could be dead. A smile is what always makes us turn towards life, even when we feel that life has turned its back on us. A smile wills life.
A smile is disarming. You can go through most of a day without speaking to other people but still treat others with respect and kindness, if only you smile.
A smile is more than an upward curve on your lips. The smiling sun in children’s drawings always has a mouth turned upward. But even if your mouth were to be sewn shut, you could still smile with your eyes. In fact, you can smile with your entire face. Your entire body. You can have a smiling approach to life. Not a frivolous or unserious approach, but one that is life affirming. The French philosopher Michel Serres has said that people who age unattractively do so because they so rarely smile. Even your wrinkles can smile. Yes, even your frame can smile.
A smile always emphasizes three things: I have lived, I am living, and I want to live.
That is why you smile.
In connection with the launch of a new Danish ecological clothing label established by Jeppe Hein and Johnny Nielsen, I wrote three semi-philosophical reflections: A Smile for You is the first.