Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Gorilla Grin

My dad's grandma had a favorite saying, and I remember it from my childhood days, displayed on a sign in my grandma's house:

It's easy enough to be pleasant
When life goes by like a song;
But the man worthwhile
Is the man with a smile
When everything goes dead wrong!

"Dead wrong" is something that I hope we don't find in tomorrow's MRI. I have reason to be concerned, and I'm frankly very nervous, but I'm not without hope, and I'm glad to know that I will be blanketed with prayers as I go through this process.

My best friend from sixth grade (the one who visited me last year) would always end her correspondence during our teenage years with the phrase, "Keep Smiling!" She always had a pretty smile, and managed to use it, no matter what was going on in her life. I would often think of her when I would read that poem on my grandma's wall.

I'm hardly feeling chipper today, especially since I logged a cumulative total of four hours of sleep in the past 24 hours, which is neither good for the brain nor the immune system (both of which need to be strong). However, I was able to spend a little time volunteering with some other moms at my son's school this morning, and that put a genuine smile on my face.

I have also learned to master what a friend described to me as the "gorilla grin", and I actually attribute much of my professional success to this concept. You see, when a gorilla is about to attack someone, it bares its teeth and appears to be smiling. Kind of like when a dog is wagging its tail to signal aggression but he looks like "hi, I'm a friendly puppy". There was actually a church conference talk in 2005, entitled, "Beware the Evil Behind the Smiling Eyes" http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,49-1-520-17,00.html
But my gorilla grin really isn't about hiding evil--it's about channeling bad energy into something more calm and constructive. Kind of like how Donny Osmond channels stage fright into great performances.

I'm not into attacking anyone, even though I remember times in the professional arena when the urge would strike. Like when confronting an obnoxious FDA inspector or witnessing some frustrating politics. Mastering the gorilla grin has helped me keep my cool as I grind my teeth and turn the corners up. A smile can usually help diffuse most tense moments. And especially now, as a career patient, there have been plenty of situations where I have wanted to beat my chest and scream. The gorilla grin helps in those matters, although sometimes there is already plenty of humor opportunity to put a smile on my face as I indulge in my inner smart-aleck.

And sometimes when things are really blue and stressful it just helps to kick into the "fake it until you can make it" mode. Of course, that summons Ann Wilson's voice, singing "Dreamboat Annie": "Sad faces painted over with those magazine smiles." But it's not so much that as it is trying to go through the motions of what is desired, until the heart picks up and follows along. It's easier to do when I start counting my many blessings, and when I start to picture the kind words and prayers of so many, being offered on my behalf. These will carry me through tomorrow, so that I can handle the outcome, whether it's "like a song" or just "dead wrong".

2 comments:

clyde said...

"And tomorrow, help Sis. Oakes to be blessed with your magic healing spells and please, make it rainbow-color -because she smiles a lot when that happen...." This was part of Claire and Helen's combined prayer tonight. We just added AMEN!
More prayers are coming on your way, and your family too!

Anonymous said...

You'll be in my prayers double time tomorrow...

I'll keep the fingers, toes and anything else I can cross, crossed.

Love ya!

Jeri
PS We've got to get the next girl trip planned. I think you mentioned Utah, right?