I hear all the time how infectious my smile is.
But how does my smile even shine through?
How do my eyes reflect honesty when I have lived a lie so long?
Behind my infectious smile, and honest eyes was pain.
Pain from a childhood trying to please others, and feeling like a failure.
Pain from the days of my youth when I harbored so much shame.
But why shame? How failure? When I was the kid everyone desired.
To the community, I did no wrong, but within my immediacy I did no right.
Despite the scars from my past, my soul often found a way to smile.
Yet, when I look at me now from then, I see the pain that others couldn’t.
It was never that I wasn’t a good photographer.
It was that when I was taking my picture alone, I felt no reason to smile.
When you look at my pictures, what do you see?
Do you see the joy I gave everyone else?
Or do you see the torture of criticism?
Or is the sensation of disappointment?
Today, though, I choose to hug me in sincerity.
I choose to give myself the peace I never thought I deserved.
I choose to no longer be bullied or judged.
So that I can see my soul smiling like the others who were ignorant of my heartache.
Because today, I decided that I deserve to be infected by my smile more than anyone else in the world.
So, I acknowledge my trauma.
I acknowledge it and forgive it.
I acknowledge it and accept it.
I acknowledge it and heal it.
Through memories of hurt.
Through recollections of ridicule.
And at the end of it all, I hug myself, and I smile.
I smile like I AM the happiest, healthiest, wealthiest man on earth.
I smile like a man free after being wrongfully imprisoned for forty-six years.
I smile like one who had lost his own soul, and found it once again.
I smile for me, and I AM willing to share this smile with all who desire it.