The painting caught my eye as I drove past. A smile formed on my face. And then the sudden and surprising awareness – a SMILE and the thought “why are you continuing to drive past … that painting makes you happy?”
Am I used to driving past happiness and continuing on with my task at hand? All this went through my mind in a split second and before I reached the end of the yard where the garage sale was taking place, I quickly stopped and hoped my tires hadn’t screeched. I jumped out of the car and went briskly to the painting, IT had to be mine now. I picked it up and set it by my car so no one else could claim it and only then looked at the price … what kind of price do you put on happiness? $20 … I couldn’t believe it. What a steal for a smile.
I don’t smile much – I’m mostly all study and all business – a serious thinker. But that’s not the only reason – actually the muscles in my face can’t smile easily – it takes ALOT of emotion to “wake them up” so to speak. I don’t feel sad inside but I’ve often been asked if I am sad. What a relief when I learned about oral motor praxis and sensory integration and polyvagal theory and the sympathetic/parasympathetic vagus nerve innervations to the facial muscles. My facial muscles are, in simple terms, under the threshold for being innervated by the facial nerves so on the outside it appears as though I don’t smile much.
Chronic pain also has a way of impacting those vagus nerve connections. As does stress. As does the communication pathways within a person’s neurological makeup. They all can affect smiles.
The painting made me happy but was not the “cause” of my smile, the painting was more like proof that something had changed. I had just received a bodywork treatment and felt a breakthrough like I had last month when I wrote the post titled “Joy.” I said I would follow up with that post and now I will. I felt Joy for about 5 days after that bodywork treatment before the old pain patterns began to creep back in. After reaching such a high and then having Joy recede, I felt a new low and even anger over not maintaining that blessed peaceful Joy.
Although I didn’t “keep” Joy, I also didn’t go back down to the place I was before … I felt about 25% better but that better was nothing to the 100% I had felt for 5 days. For the past month I have struggled with knowing what can be and yet what isn’t. Then I had another break through, more tension releasing in this most recent intense bodywork session and the feeling of being 75% better AND being able to smile.
I’m not sure if I’ll stay at this 75% better place or if I’ll have a set back, but I do have the painting hanging in my office where I can look at it everyday and it still makes me happy and I’m still smiling every time I look at it.