“She was not one for emptying her face of expression. ”
– J. D. Salinger
I have a pretty bad habit.
My face shows everything I’m feeling. Everything.
And you know what else it does? It shows everything everyone else is feeling too.
My daughter Kelly has often made fun of me for this. We’ll be watching a movie and I’ll catch her looking at me instead of the screen. When I turn to see what she’s looking at, she breaks out in hysterical giggles and says, “You’re doing it again.” Apparently, whatever the person I’m watching is feeling, I display it on my face. They’re laughing? I’m smiling. They’re crying? My face is all scrunched up. They’re singing? (Oh, Kelly loooooves this one….) My forehead is creased and I’m straining to reach the high notes just like they are.
Well, that last example happened at church Sunday. The choir was singing one of the most beautiful songs ever, and I was feeling it to the core of my being. My face was singing right along with them, when I feel a little elbow go into my side and I hear,
“Mom. Fix your face.”
Fix my face?? What the…. [wait, I’m in church]…crap is she talking about…?
Oh. Oh yeah. That again. Grrrr.
Ever since she said that, I’ve been thinking a lot about it. While, no, I don’t want to look like an idiot, and yes, maybe I do need to work on ‘fixing my face’ sometimes to avoid just that – the deeper meaning behind why I do that maybe isn’t such a bad thing at all.
See this quote?
“All that is in the heart is written on the face.”
– Ritu Ghatourey
Well, I believe that. And I think that the fact that my face reflects what others are feeling is a pretty good sign. I think that shows that I’m empathetic. That I don’t just look around at my fellow members of humanity, I actually take the time to really see them. I feel them. I put myself right in their place and go right along with them on their journey, even if it’s just for a few seconds.
That’s kinda cool, right?
Even if I do look like a complete idiot in the process.
There are a lot of things that we teach our kids when we don’t even realize we’re doing it. I’m sure I have some habits that I’d like for Kelly to overlook (which I’m sure are the ones that she’ll remember best, unfortunately), but this in particular is one of them that I’m not too sorry to pass along to her. Feel for each other. You know? Feel your fellow man’s pain, his happiness, his struggle, his triumph. Anything that happens to another member of humanity, is also happening to you. We’re all in this thing together. Recognize that.
Wouldn’t this world be a much better place if we all did that? All the time?
Well, it would also be a much funnier place if everyone showed that on their face all the time like I do. Kelly sure would get a kick out of it. So, maybe you could just be that way and try to hide it a little better than I do. That might be a better idea.
So, note to self: Yes, listen to your daughter. Fix your face. But your heart? Yeah, that heart is probably right where it needs to be.
When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.
– Susan Sarandon