Chapter 12 Sharing, Smiling and Acceptance (English Translation)
Gabriela Buzura, Turda, Romania: 22 April 2012
Today is a special day for you, for several reasons. The most important is that you will meet your maternal grandfather. Also, today you have started your first visit to Romania, your mother’s native country. And finally, today you travelled for the first time in an aeroplane. That’s a few too many new things for one day, don’t you think?
It’s been said it’s important and good for one’s mental health to try something new once per week. For example, eat some food you haven’t tried before; visit a new place; or why not take a parachute jump, or do bungee jumping? You can view this as a game that brings with it cognitive development, flexibility in thinking, and a release of endorphins, which protects against stress in adulthood. Finally, I would say it is very enjoyable.
I’m glad that from a young age you have the opportunity to do this simple and useful practice—with your parents’ help, of course. By the way, your parents are very special people who, besides their unconditional love for you, will offer you excellent guidance towards the necessary balance for a harmonious development as you grow up.
I have learned many things from your parents, and I’m sure I still have loads more to learn, but I’d like to tell you how I met them. When I was eleven years old, I was in fifth grade in school. The first foreign language taught in school was French, and I had started studying it in the second grade. From the fifth grade, a second foreign language, English, was added to the school curriculum. Even now, I can visualise the three-quarters’ page conversation between Tom and Jerry (cat and mouse characters from a children’s cartoon I had grown up with), and that was the first English lesson. I was so happy with the English language that, at home, I re-read that conversation until I had memorised it completely. But aside from that, I was also very happy with the nice and warm young teacher who wrote this dialogue on the blackboard, and who was no other than… guess! Your mother! Yes, this is how I met your mother, who was around 23-years-old, according to my calculations. My love of English brought us together, because I was eager to learn more English at a faster rate. And then I asked her to give me private tuition, and your mother came every Saturday to my house, and she taught me more and more. In this way, we became friends—even more so when we discovered that our families knew each other, and our mothers had attended the same school.
Time passed and your mother went to England. For a while, we kept in touch. Bianca wrote letters to me in which she included grammar exercises. She also sent me birthday cards. And she telephoned me on the day my father died, which meant a lot to me. Even though we had a special link, somehow we lost touch, and for a few years we didn’t know anything about each other. Then in December 2008, I found her again through your uncle, your mother’s brother. I was very happy when I met Nick through a socialising network. I knew that through him I could obtain news about your mother, and that is what happened. But in the end, I started to spend more time talking to him than talking to your mother, and now, as you can anticipate, Nick became my lover, and I hope one day will become my husband and the father of our children. About your father, I can tell you he is an extraordinary man! I have met him four times so far, because he has received me in his house four times, and each time he has affectionately asked me to return. Indeed, he is a special man, whom I admire, appreciate and respect.
But now let’s return to the original purpose of this letter. What do I do to help make this world a better place? Or at least what do I hope to do, which is based on my wish to help people in distress? Studying clinical psychology, a field which requires continual study, I consider it will take me many years to become rigorously prepared to contribute to making the world a better place by putting my aptitudes and skills to use in the service of those who need help and support due to their mental health problems. And yet, through writing this letter, your parents have helped me analyse my behaviour a bit more in this direction to make the world a better place, and I discovered that, actually, I already do a few things in this respect. I would like to thank them, because without their idea of writing a letter to you, I wouldn’t have realised that even small things can have a big impact.
- I realised that I like to share. Through sharing, I can give daily. What can I give through sharing? Anything. My experience, advice, knowledge, viewpoint, opinion, a song that can warm hearts, or a film from which I have learned something, a book that can change decisions or choices we make in life, because in the end, life is a sum of choices. Therefore, an easy and convenient way to make the world a better place is to share with loved ones, with close friends, with young and old, with strangers, or with animals. It doesn’t matter with whom. What’s important is to give unselfishly. For example, I like sharing the wisdom given by the elderly, which always becomes a source of motivation. From them, I learned that if I live my life correctly and honestly, then when I grow old, I will enjoy my life once again. And also from them, I know that when I am old, I will have more regrets for things I haven’t done than for things that I have done. Finally, we regret only the opportunities that we missed, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions that we postponed for too long. We regret these, and not the human mistakes that happen to everyone. From the elderly, I have learned to share and to pass on my knowledge, the way they pass on their wisdom. Because only in this way, they say, can we reach eternal life.
- Another way to contribute towards making the world a better place—which is very simple, natural and without cost but with maximum benefit—is to smile! Yes, a smile, when given to someone, automatically stimulates another smile in response. Because of this, the benefit is maximum: every time you smile, practically you smile to yourself. And everybody knows that a smile doesn’t cost anything, but is very valuable. So why not use it more often? My friends tell me that I smile all the time, and that I radiate happiness, which puts them in a good mood. In this way, I realise that when I smile to someone, almost certainly that person will return the smile, and definitely there are two people to whom I communicate happiness: the person to whom I smiled, and myself, because almost every smile is the product of another smile. Almost certainly, this is how my habit of smiling has grown stronger. Because it is a kind of circular reward in which a smile provokes another one, and so on. Practically, a smile is a kind of “free therapy”, because it is a valuable tool with which we open distressed hearts, or we can arose emotions in those who had become unfeeling. At the same time, it can be considered also a kind of self-therapy, because it’s been said that when we are sad or in less than a good mood, it’s best to mime smiles with the muscles of our face because the nerves linked to the muscles of the face activate neurons that transmit a signal to the brain that puts us in a good mood. In this way, we can influence our momentary mood and we can be less sad. I hope I have convinced you of the power that is inherent in a gesture as simple and free as a smile.
- Acceptance. It’s a bridge that links a dilemma to the normality that follows. Often, not wanting to accept that some things happen differently than we want them to, or that some things cannot be changed, we do nothing except get stuck and lose time, instead of crossing over and going further. I’m still working on acceptance. I’m still learning to accept others and to accept myself. But since I’ve started to look at things with different eyes and to more easily accept that in life some not-so-nice things happen too, and that we cannot control things to always happen the way we want them to, I’ve discovered that I go forth, and that I’m not in the same place as I was before I was taking the option of acceptance into consideration. How does acceptance contribute towards making the world a better place? The same as the other things I mentioned. I use it as a stimulus for other people who are asking my advice when they find themselves with a dilemma. And they usually change their perspective, seeing that there are other alternatives, and this produces an insight that starts and motivates the finding of other solutions. It doesn’t always work with everybody, and especially not with stubborn people. But even with these people, there is a chance to succeed if you counter all their arguments.
In summary, I share, I smile and I accept. That is how I contribute towards making the world a better place. These are things that are simple, but that have a powerful effect on people, because they hold a special importance in inter-personal relationships. So, my dear little nephew, I don’t have anything else to say, other than to welcome you into this world. I hope you discover the roads less travelled, and on which to walk smiling (in this way, your steps will be full of life), and to accept that the path that you have chosen will not satisfy everybody (this way you will be able to continue your chosen path), and to share everything you will find with those you will meet in your journey (in this way you will become immortal).
Lots of love,
Your aunt Gaby
P.S. Your melting smile has already touched loads of hearts.