A couple of posts back, I mentioned the curious fact that curving your lips into a smile can actually lift your mood. And this morning I read this interesting observation in Essential Spirituality:
"We tend to forget how very different the laws that govern the mind are from the laws that operate in the physical world. In the world, if we give a physical thing to another person, whether it be a toy or a diamond, we lose it.
Yet in the mind, the opposite is true. Whatever we intend for another person we experience ourselves. Whatever we give we gain, whatever we offer flowers in our own minds If you feel hatred toward someone, that hate boomerangs back and scorches your own mind. On the other hand, if you offer love to someone, that love first fills and heals your mind."
Based on that premise, it seems clear that if you were to choose to extend love and forgiveness toward another person -- even if they had hurt you and your initial instinct was fear and loathing -- that love and forgiveness would bloom within your own heart and make the relationship easier to bear; even offer healing.
In the "Real World" a boat is only a boat if it floats -- or was at least intended to float. This lovely floral creation we spotted in a park in Taipei may LOOK like a boat, but it was clearly never intended to float, only to suggest the possibility of flotation -- and, more likely, to suggest the possibility of pirates lurking either behind the next bush or in the nearby halls of capitalism.
We who see this picture understand from the first glance that this is merely the suggestion of a boat. We also, as humans, learn pretty early in life to detect the difference between the curved lips that signal an apparent smile and the actual curve of a real smile. And, in fact, my children learned early to detect their father's smiles even when there was no obvious curving of the lips: something in the twinkling of his eyes was always a dead givaway.
So how is it that appearance can lead to reality; that the appearance of a smile, the appearance of love, can actually eventually manifest as positive emotion? I think the trick here is that the effect is inward, not outward. It is not the appearance of someone else's fake smile that will uplift you; it is the act of generating your own. It is not the possibly hollow suggestion of someone else's love that fills your heart, but the effort YOU make to love that heals.
At times, when we have been wounded by the emptiness that lay unexpectedly behind the appearance of love and affection others project, it may be particularly difficult to smile or to love. But how interesting it is, that our efforts to smile through those situations, to love in spite of the wounding, are the surest ways to appease our own soul's longing.
And, in fact, those of us who walk through the park take delight from this charming boat: we don't actually need it to float. What enchants us is the vision -- a boat made of flowers -- and the time and work that its creators invested to offer that enchantment to those of us who pass by. That effort, on our behalf, pleases as surely as the effort we exert to share a smile or project love. It is the appearance of buoyancy that matters; the thought that counts.