While the feature photo was taken in Chicago, Illinois, the words edited and published out of Portland, Oregon, much of what’s spelled out was written ‘in-flight’ to Honolulu. I began my curiosity of how genuine other people’s smiles were after noticing my own disingenuous smiles in old photos. And the more I looked back at historical photos and how most individuals before the 1940’s did not smile, I figured there had to be deeper meanings behind their serious faces. Today, we smile for almost anything, especially to confirm/affirm approvals from people we’d care less for. But at the end of the day, before we rest our eyes, what did we smile for? Did we smile on purpose or by habit? I don’t think everyone has the same ideas of a smile’s function, because only recently in time it became much easier to do so….Furthermore, here I share the story of my smile’s purpose. (Photo by Deyen Smith)

August 17, 2018

smiling because it’s a photo, or because the world should know?

A smile goes a long way, it’s how I got here. Because the direction of many smiles often end up in good places—whether it be in the city, or a place in your heart. So I heard Mo’ Pitney singing about where country resides, and it’s just a smile away to feel that southern comfort. As if the warm liquor down your throat embeds like sweat. How comforting, because that’s all you’ll do in the south—sweat.

Like an overwhelming smile bringing out the tears of joy. That’s another way to excrete sweat. Isn’t it all the same stuff?

But what’s your smile worth? Does it depend on the eyes of the perceiver?

I find smiling to be a luxury for those who know best, and genuine at heart. Deep smiles are hard to truly express, but most of us do it anyway for the camera [phones], and people they share joyous moments with.

A smile strongly proves attractiveness, otherwise most of us wouldn’t be friends.

In case I didn’t mention, the moment is what matters most. You determine whether a smile is appropriate to express to the world or not. It’s your world!

A smile can be nothing more than a break in this painful life, and maybe the vain of existence. We recognize the ‘dropped’ face as a form of expression for people who’re settling back into their normal state of being; to blindly live in hope for the next breaking smile.

Such as life being an overcast day, and we await the sun breaks to shine on us momentarily.

Or that’s just an Oregon thing…?

From top left to bottom right: Jesse Joe, Ellen Joe-Washington, Bobby Jean Ridgeway, Mary Lee Joe-Stoglin, Charles Lee Joe, Dorothy Jean Malone – c. 1930s – Jonesboro, LA

In the photo on the left, the camera captures a moment of existence, and after asking myself why for their lacks of smiles, you best believe I thought about it because I think a lot.

With less smiles back in the day, it tells a story of what life was experiencing. Life being my kinfolk who ain’t smiling—as from dawn to dusk their conditions were far from any millennial’s desire to touch with a 10-foot pole.

We capture numerous moments today smiling and I was challenged to think about the circumstances that would prevent a family from smiling in their portrait set. My uncle says the walk was hot, their feet ached, so if you get it by now the car wasn’t their’s either.

I mean, I woulda’ asked for a ride too…But I get why they show zero teeth. (someone said no!)

Assumptions weren’t far off, I was told there wasn’t much to smile for anyways. Entertainment was sparse, kids played but it wasn’t like today’s playful smiles with each other, and the future felt like never.

While history is told through the candor of portraits, today I’m sold it’s the roots of mine’s too. Although these are much different times, my smile once lacked depth, girth, and teeth.

By becoming the creator I am, I found the broken pieces and fixed it with life’s tools. Out of perspective from my uncles and aunts, why not carry on from their roots of subtle projections. If it weren’t for their hardened faces, my strengthened smile wouldn’t exist.

My mother’s words were the fire to a reigniting lifestyle. Through her words I read in 2013, written in 1986, I was shown the value of my smile. From there I had no choice but to smile during life’s episodes of turbulence—I couldn’t end my journey for financial burdens and other people’s choices.

I wrote more about this Journal in June: Sky’s the Limit 

And the results of this smile, six figures above the burdens.

It seemed easier to smile than give up. As each became a checkpoint, it was a world renowned considering for years I thought I’d never see it again.

It’s why I fall back on my failures, suppression is in my roots. You all just happen to have the blessing to see me on the yonder sides of it.

At this moment, I’m flying over the Pacific; to be specific, heading to Hawaii and reminiscing the time(s) I couldn’t comprehend my complex life. As a smile once forced because it was easy, but taken for granted, veiled itself as easy.

Easy got me happy. Easy got me to smile. And maybe the universe once mistook my deceitfully smiles for joy, today I’m repaying everyone back with teeth so deep!

It would be deceitful to hide it. A lie of omission not to share it. And as black excellence goes, ‘…I’ma let em’ see!

Back in Jonesboro, LA – I trust that my smile shines as bright as the descendants of Joe, and Mixon’s if you truly know our story.

As each their smiles fade further into theirs souls, our tears emerge from the dirt out our body—salty as the seas we came out of as human beings.

“…and when the blood in your veins returns to the sea, and the earth in your bones returns to the ground, perhaps then you will remember that this land does not belong to you, it is you who belongs to this land.”

– unknown (Native American)

Maybe it’s why some of our ancestors jumped back in en route.

Doesn’t matter, I smile for them too, who couldn’t see smiles on the other land. And to join those who made it with a, “yes we can smile,” by choice. More importantly, for those still in despair; here’s a story of a smile first made in faith. It’s easy, I tell ya’…

But know where to start…


Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Budd writes to encourage readers to explore the depths of their inner ocean, an unexplored self, because it's fun once you get through the emotional part... “The world around us is our vehicle, what you'll read is how I digest it.” -Budd

5 Comment on “.Smile

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