If Your Smile Is Beautiful and True: You are On the Right Path
May 30, 2021
There are school pictures of me from around the time I was going through a trauma. It’s of a little girl who had a smile that was not really a smile. Not comfortable with herself probably because of that trauma. It was brief and I have a loving family and loving set of parents who put a stop to it. I had forgotten completely about it, as young children are able to do. But I think it’s reflected in my smile from those school pictures. My mom has often mentioned my smile, how in that photo it’s a wonderful smile and in that photo it seems forced. In that I think the woman who created me in her womb and who tried the best that she could to protect and nurture me through my life, is right. I think if your mother is a true mother who loves and has tried to protect you, than that person is a good judge of whether that smile is a real smile.
I usually post a photo to go with each blog post. Indeed for me litter picking and trash art is a very visual process, and I’m often inspired by the photos. But today, I don’t need to show you the photo of the big smile I had. Maybe I should post it. I’m smiling from cheek to cheek. I’m proud of that photo because I took it with a friend I met for the first time who I’ve been working with for over a year. When you are in the company of good friends who know you and share a true and good purpose and are sharing good food, than that is when a smile of that magnitude comes out.
But when I saw that photo and my beautiful smile, I thought of my mom. I thought of how she doesn’t talk about things as is often the way of her generation. I’m sure she has pain and regrets and she felt incredible maternal anguish when I was going through my trauma and she found out about it. There was not much she could do other than being my mother and loving me through an often silently rebellious adolescence where her overachieving daughter silently blamed her for a lot, and tried to define myself professionally and socially as everything but what kind of woman she was. But she loved me through it all, often patiently.
So I went to a very nice dinner last night with climate work friends who were fancy in a minimalistic and earth friendly way. Gosh, they were all beautiful and good looking and so fundamentally good. The climate activists and their spouses. This is what doing good deeds and eating plant-based does, it creates really beautiful people. And I was beautiful last night too because I had a big smile. And I brought a tray of shrimp fried rice that my mom made.
It’s the long holiday weekend and in the process of trying to use less plastic, I started to go to my parents house more to have breakfast because it doesn’t generate plastic. But maybe I was using that just as an excuse. Maybe I just wanted to see them more. To be with them. I had a good long deep sleep last night, I think after having a joyous gathering with climate friends and being truly happy. I slept well. And this morning I stood in our backyard and the urban flock of parakeets were gossiping and the bees were buzzing around my mother in law’s pumpkins that are growing so much due to the compost. There is a slight mist and it’s damp, so I brought the patio cushions in to dry. The world is beginning to wake up and I’m thinking of my mom and when she’ll have coffee this morning, and that I’ll stop by later in the day and show her my photo with my smile. I’ll tell her about my friends and she’ll love them, because she loves beautiful people and beautiful things. And I think she’ll love my smile and my photo, because I’m beautiful. She always told me that I was beautiful, that I had to be because I’m her daughter. I truly don’t think I ever believed that until last night. It took me #468 bags to figure that out.
I’m not sure how long this journey of plastic picking and plogging and climate activism will last, and sometimes I think I’m going absolutely crazy sometimes. I’m sitting at the kitchen table with tears streaming my face and my mother-in-law who speaks only Korean and doesn’t read this blog is asking me if I have allergies. I do have allergies, and climate change is making all of our allergies worse. But no, this morning I’m just figuring myself and things out on the blog. I think 1000 bags will be enough. 1000 bags will be my goal. After that, I’m going to become a farmer. Dr. Farmer!!! Wait, I think he was one of our professors at Crimson Medical School! Maybe I’ll just be me. I’m good with myself these days.