Looking around the tube this morning, there were a sea of faces. Different kinds of faces. Some looked - as expected - half asleep (who could blame them, it was 7am...). One lady looked seriously angry. She was wedged between one very large gentleman with an itchy wool coat on, and an attractive younger woman with the bushiest hair I'd ever seen. Her face was all tense, eyes all darting about trying to squeeze herself out of the inconsiderate-people sandwich. As usual there were all those mean people taking liberties in the centre of the carriage area, standing with legs sprawled, bums out, bags on shoulders - anything so they could keep the one square foot of carriage space to themselves. Not usually a gobby person (often) I politely asked them all to move a bit down. No one moved. Then I found my inner gob and yelled "Excuse me, we're all squished up here!".
It worked. I was physically able to breathe a sigh of relief. Looking about, I noticed that the face of the angry lady - who was suddenly freed from the bushy-wool sandwich - completely altered. With stress no longer plastered across her expression, she shot a relieved and thankful glance my way. Her whole face lit up. It was funny, for one inch of a second, she dropped her guard (put in place for locations such as the tube, the street and the bus to deter advances from weird strangers), and allowed me see who she really was.
I wondered what face I put out to the world when I'm face-to-face with a sea of strangers. (I quickly put on a non-creepy smile, careful not to grin at anyone in particular.) Our faces are our mask to the world. Maybe our eyes actually are windows to our souls. Faces are the first thing people (generally) look at upon meeting you, and then, the first thing people use to judge the kind of person you are.
Did you ever read Roald Dahl's 'The Twits' when you were little? What a marvellously horrible story. It tells of Mr and Mrs Twit, who aside from being actual twits, were very ugly people, both inside and out. And the reason, Roald Dahl explains, is all from thinking ugly thoughts.
"If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely." Roald Dahl, The Twits
They say that the kind of life you have had is written all over your face. To some extent, I believe this to be true. Each euphoric moment - the smiles have been written in the wrinkles around your eyes. Every hurt plays across your face in the moments you might be caught off guard. Forget palm reading, each person's face often tells their own life story.
When life throws hard lessons your way, yes, they shape your character, they take you on a rollercoaster of different emotions, but I primarily it is how you think whilst you are in these lessons (or even how you think about them afterwards - if they have hit you particularly bad) which is portrayed on the outside of you.
Consider the kind of thoughts you have. Are you an ugly twit? (I am sometimes...)
Do you send out love to the person who hurts you again, and again? Or do you feel bitter, and let anger eat you up from the inside, out?
Even just thinking beautiful thoughts, fills you with a warm, fuzzy, beautiful feeling right to the pit of your stomach.
So if it feels good, and it looks good - we've really got no excuse - have we?