Sun, Mar 03, 2002 - Page 24 News List

The power of a smile can treat the incurable

Chen Hung, left, uses a Chinese phonetic chart to dictate his thoughts to his wife, Liu Hsueh-hui.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The power of a smile is well-known by everyone. Perhaps some might think that visitors to hospital wards would bring reasons for smiles. But, for me, seeing old friends in such a time and place inevitably brings very mixed feelings and even tears to my eyes.

And so I once told everyone "no visitors" -- the reason being that stirring up too much emotions is not good for my health. But those who wanted to come still came.

Therefore, I had to adjust my mentality, and accept friends' well-intended visits. Trying unsuccessfully to come up with words, while also getting a sense of what it feels like "when people with genuine heartfelt friendship smile and look at each other" -- yes, that is a very good feeling.

Smiles can encourage others. It is an expression of compliment. Smiles can also create a harmonious atmosphere. Therefore, I try my best to think about beautiful scenery, beautiful things, and beautiful memories. Amid such deep reflection, I nurture the potential and momentum to smile.

I want to wash away the pain caused by my illness with smiles. I want to relax my tightly-locked eye brows with smiles.

The line between pain and joy is thin to begin with. Gradually, I can smile even when I am not feeling well. When I am feeling sad, I can also smile. This way I incur no losses, yet the pressure on the people surrounding me is significantly reduced.

Once the habit of smiling is formed, people almost no longer treat me as a seriously ill person. At times I did not wear a smile, I would immediately receive complaints based on misunderstanding that I was unhappy with something or someone.

Therefore, when I truly can't smile, I also have the door closed and quietly indicate to the nurse watching me "sorry, from now on I can't put on a smile."

One day, after a nurse changed my medicine, she told me: "Don't be too hard on yourself. Sometimes I know that you are not feeling well, but you are still smiling at others. Although I smile back at you at those times, I get an urge to cry the moment I step out of the room."

At that moment, my mind went blank for a long while.

As I can still communicate to others through writing, I once asked my nurse why she picked nursing as her profession. She told me that she truly admires Florence Nightingale.

I asked her what kind of dreams she has now. She said that, if she had the chance, she would like to work as a nurse on the frontlines of a battle.

I thought about her words. I thought about her comment regarding my smile, too. Repeatedly thinking about them, I realize they make sense. Therefore, I often feel sincere gratitude in my heart towards everyone.

Published by Chen Hung in I Love My Family, Nov. 2001.

Translated by Amy Wu

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