I remember a lot of smiles in Thailand. A smile seemed a badge worn with pride, not a weakness to be hidden. And that, in turn, made me smile, too. I found that even the frozen, placid smiling Buddha statues pulled an involuntary grin across my face.
I’m not saying everyone in Thailand smiled all the time. And I'm certainly not saying everyone in Thailand is happy. I’m also not saying a smile can solve all of your problems—or any of them, for that matter.
What I am saying is that smiling seemed to come easy in Thailand. And the smiles seemed to stick around longer than expected. Like a bird that alights on your windowsill and chirps gladly, though it doesn't seem to have any reason to.
And they weren’t smiles that said “this is happiest day of my life.” Rather, they were smiles that seemed to say “this is just another regular day, and that’s fine, too.” There were smiles that said “this, too, shall pass.” They were smiles that spoke of the possibility of finding something for which to be grateful, even through life's darker days, and the monotony of existing.
The easy smiles I found in Thailand reminded me that sometimes, a smile is all we have in the face of pain. When the universe bears down on us with its infinite stare, we can always smile back.
A defiant smile.