You Smile with Your Eyes · 2 May 2020

I can tell whether you are smiling even though you are hiding behind your mask. After all, people smile with their eyes.

I am a people watcher. I always have been. Whether I am in a small, medium, or large group, I like to sit back and watch and listen. And I have always noticed that people smile with their eyes. Yes, for many smiling is a full body affair, but everybody smiles with their eyes.

It is funny to think about smiling behind masks. But everybody is wearing them these days. Surgical masks. Construction masks. Sewn cloth masks. Bandana masks. Makeshift masks. They are all the rage these days. And so people may lament that they do not see people smiling anymore. But you do not need to see people’s lips to see if they are smiling. Just look at their eyes. You can see that twinkle of a smile. All you need to do is look.

I remember an icebreaker we used to play at church conferences. The name of the game was, “I love you, but I just can’t smile.” Or something like that. Anyway. The rules were simple. You were supposed to go up to somebody and say the words, “I love you, Joe. If you love me smile.” (Of course, you would use the person’s actual name, but I am using Joe as my example.) And Joe would reply, “I love you too Michael, but I just can’t smile.” Of course, you would be doing everything you could to get Joe to smile. Batting your eyes, sticking out your tongue, crossing your eyes, whatever it took. Now, I do not remember if there was a loser out thing or not. You know. If the person smiled, then he or she had to sit down, but if not, you had to sit down. It does not really matter though. It was great fun. You got to learn people’s names and you got to try and make them smile.

Well, it was a good thing that a smile was judged just by the mouth in that game. Because if you judged a smile by the whole face or even just the eyes, nobody would be able to win the game. Or at least nobody that I know. People would have downturned mouths and say, “I love you too, but I just can’t smile.” But their eyes would be sparkling and their body language was that of laughter and mirth. And of course, most people could not even keep their mouths turned down into a frown. Maybe it is just the word smile that makes people smile. Or that you just cannot say love without some happiness in your soul.

At any rate, I know that there are sad people out there. There are people who wonder what people are thinking because they cannot see their whole faces. But I would suggest that whoever said it was right. The eyes are a window to the soul. At the very least, they are an indicator of whether somebody is smiling or not.

I know that people will not always be wearing physical masks. I also know that there are people who have worn masks long before they were fashionable. But either way, we ought to be able to tell whether people are smiling behind those masks or not. After all, everybody smiles (and frowns and pouts and emotes) with their eyes.

© 2020 Michael T. Miyoshi

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