Her smile beckons me; it is captivating, friendly and full of warmth. She cuts the paddy stalks rhythmically with the other womenfolk labouring under the harsh afternoon sun. They giggle as i wave out to them and ask if i can join them in their work. The woman with the warm smile shyly points out that such hard work is not for the likes of me. The rest start laughing. I too join in the laughter, in response to the simple truth of my inability to swiftly cut paddy stalks with the sun burning my back. Theres so much hard work, harsh circumstances , and little leisure in this remote tribal hamlet. Later she speaks to me about her life cheerfully with no trace of the grim circumstances that engulf her. She connects with a smile of contentment.
Happy responses to lifes travails are confounding. Is this a mindset that has decided to quietly accept what life has to offer as ones destiny or a smiling dare you to challenging circumstances Surely it is the latter. In each one of us is the innate desire to connect to our circumstances, share moments from our life with another and brave it out. That is the inner core from where each one of us draws energy to live life through hard times.
A smile reflects whats inside us and communicates our desire to experience connectedness with another.
Smiling at another is a fleeting moment, but sublime nevertheless. Contentment is a natural outcome of engaging in such moments. Leading a meager existence is not very appealing. Despite that, with few resources to indulge in materialistic extravagances, there is a simple understanding among these people on the endless bounty of connecting to others and finding contentment.
At the other extreme, the modern world is all set on a great march to fulfill an ever-demanding cycle of needs. Rushing past our fellow travelers, there is forgetfulness in our behavior, little attempt to connect, fear of looking in the eye and displaying feelings. But the deep reservoir of emotions within us is waiting to connect. It is in anguish at not being able to express. And in anguish, there is little scope for contentment. Contentment becomes most elusive, and ironically becomes a never-ending search for all of us. In this elusive search, several paths are explored in the hope to somersault into a life of deep contentment . Whether or not one makes it to that point of bliss becomes inconsequential if it means sidestepping connectedness with fellow beings. For even if the need to connect for the exalted soul becomes less important , there are many who crave for a connection with another being as a means to walking the path of contentment.
It is said that all beings are one, but that they manifest in different forms, and scientific studies have proven that life forms of all kinds respond to warmth and make an effort to connect. It must be this fundamental connectedness that beckons me to the warm smile of a total stranger in a remote tribal hamlet. The lighting up of a face with an exuberant smile, the brushing aside of the daily tirades of life and taking the circumstances as a given is nothing but the opening up of our souls to the many opportunities of exulting in this moment of existence. Then why the search Connecting with a smile is perhaps a way to finding ourselves in a state of contentment.