I like to smile. It’s healthy, fun, and constitutes a large part of how I interact with the world. Smiling, in my opinion, is one of life’s great pleasures.
And until last week, I had taken smiling completely for granted.
“Gaah… even I know how to
ride a bike without falling off.”
In the immediate aftermath of my bike crash, my face was bruised and swollen to the point where I looked like Sloth from The Goonies. It’s healing pretty quickly, but one glaring disfigurement remains: about 15% of my three front teeth are damaged, making me look like a meth-addicted hobo.
When I smile at people now, the bungee-cord-whiplash reactions range from surprise and curiosity to revulsion and abject horror. Thankfully, it will “only” cost my non-insurance-having ass $800 to repair the damage. Even more amazing, my wonderful family dentist managed to squeeze me in for the surgery only a week after I first called her. And, of course, I could have been injured far, far worse.
But still — smiling at a pretty girl and having her recoil in terror isn’t exactly a fun way to go through life.
“This is water, this is water”
It is trite beyond belief to say that we don’t always appreciate something until it’s taken away—it’s so trite that the mere act of typing that phrase made me want to punch myself in the balls. But even so, as David Foster Wallace pointed out, “we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness.”
That is, indeed, the trick. He begins and ends that life-changing commencement address with a parable about fish in the water—essentially explaining that, immersed as we are in our daily experiences, we often forget about the greater reality around us. I’ll refrain from quoting the rest of the story or speech, despite wanting to single out a few more nuggets; the whole thing is a deeply insightful, beautifully written paean to awareness and consciousness that still inspires me.
Anyway, that’s enough Oprah for now; back to robot handjobs and such shortly.
Suffice to say, I’m deeply grateful that by this time tomorrow, I’ll be able to smile again. And I won’t be taking it for granted anymore.
- Biking accident renders me even uglier than usual
- Tackle the Infinite Summer Challenge (DFW!)
- Consider the Elephant (more DFW!)
- The robot revolution is coming