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Can You See Me Smile?

Writers often search for new ways to express a character smiling, and often they include the eyes. “Her eyes lit up with a smile” or “His laughing eyes,” or we’ve all seen this, “A twinkle in her eye.”

But how much of our smile is really expressed through our eyes rather than an upturned mouth or a silly grin? I’m finding during these times of Covid-19 and masks, that the eyes are everything.

My discovery started in the supermarket during the early days of the virus, while I politely passed a shopper at the new appropriate distance. I, like many others, felt uncomfortable with the new rules, so without thinking, from behind my face covering, I smiled reassuringly at the woman. To my delight, she responded in kind, her eyes, the only thing visible behind her masked face, lit up in a gesture of silly understanding.

On my rare occasions out in public, I began a mission of smiling. At first, to test my theory of smiling eyes, but gradually my objective evolved into a desire to let people know we’re in this together. A casual smile can go a long way. So, don’t be deceived in thinking that just because we hide our faces behind the mask, people can’t see our joys, and sometimes our loneliness.

Despite these strange times, I find I have a lot of reasons to smile, and I hope you do too. But if you feel down or find yourself with a bout of anxiety, share a smile, you might be amazed at the comfort of a return smile, and you may bring joy to a stranger.

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