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Keep On Smiling
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opinion columns
by Richard Harris

From the Feb. 25, 2020 issue of The Journal
   One of my favorite parts of downtown Buena Vista is gone. I'm not talking specifically about the two historic buildings that were destroyed by fire last week (as tragic as that loss is), but rather one small aspect of one of the buildings.
   If you didn't look closely, you might have never even noticed it. Or if you passed by it frequently, your eyes might have just sort of "glazed over" it and no longer picked it up.
   I'm referring to a painting on the front of Buena Vista Floral & Gift Shop. Near the top/right some of the plaster covering the front of the building had apparently cracked and fallen off. In that area half of a "smiley face" shone out in yellow. The way it was situated with the missing plaster, it appeared that it had once been much larger, but then covered up, only to reemerge. It was as if it was saying, "Keep on smiling, folks!"
   I'm not sure if I ever really noticed it until I started spending more time travelling in town on foot instead of always hurriedly driving through. My running buddies and I began meeting at the Courthouse and starting from there. I usually park facing the floral shop and I formed a habit of looking at Mr. Smiley. It was a little thing that made me feel a little better.
   Some mornings when running alone, I have sat in my vehicle for 5 minutes or more trying to make the final decision of whether or not to actually get out and start a run. I'd think of the bad weather or how much I had to do that day and begin to rationalize my way out of it.
   Mr. Smiley would eventually convince me to open the door and get out.
   For the longest time I wondered what else might be hidden behind the plaster and was sure there must be a great story behind it as well. However, I was given the following explanation: "The painter just asked if he could paint the exterior how he wanted to."
   My compliments to the painter, who has no idea how many times it has brightened my day.
   Not only was it unique, but also for me it seemed symbolic and uplifting. Life is hard sometimes. Sometimes we really don't feel like smiling. However, if you're a free person in America and saved by Jesus Christ, you should be able to once again smile after going through difficulties. You are blessed.
   Losses hurt, for sure. Often, as in the case of the loss of a dear loved one, they hurt awfully bad for an awfully long time. But eventually – if you can't manage it at the time – you can surely count your blessings, find the good in the world and in your life and see your smile reemerge.
   After all, the "Good Book" tells us that Satan loses. In the end, there's just no way darkness can keep the light covered up. It breaks out and shines from whatever tries to cover it.
   As "Wet Willie" sang in the 1970s:
   Keep on smilin' through the rain, laughin' at the pain.
   Rollin' with the changes til the sun comes out again.