Behind Taylor Lee’s smile


Ana Gutierrez, Entertainment Editor

The soles of her bare feet leave indentions on the carpet as the sound of raindrops splashing on her window instantly puts her mind at ease. She sips from a Starbucks cup, and the taste of cafe latte with two Splendas gives her the energy boost she needs to continue working on the half-written essay waiting on her computer screen. Nothing out of the ordinary happened today, but it was one more day for senior Taylor Lee to spread love through the simplicity and beauty of a smile.

Today is Thanksgiving Day, the day when you take a step back from the drama of your life and look at the big picture in search of blessings to be thankful for. The key to being thankful today is not whether you take a step back or not, but how far you go.

“You have to look at what’s going on around you and compare your situation to other people. I am humbled daily by what other people have to go through, as my physics teacher Coach Hammond was saying, we are so blessed to live in a community so sheltered from the things he has seen go wrong in his life,” Taylor said.

We have all convinced ourselves that life is a cycle, and it will not be long before the good days turn bad. Once they turn bad, we are also convinced that it is only a matter of time before the cycle begins again and the good days return. If only we would take it day by day, constantly seeking out the ray of light through the darkness, there would no longer be a slow fade from one day to the next.

“Daily, I get very frustrated with my schedule…but I can always come back from that really easily,” Taylor said. “My personality is one that something can phase me for a second, and the next I can be jumping off the walls.”

In Taylor’s eyes, the key to dwelling in this happiness is sharing the love. By giving back to others in need, Taylor believes that we will also receive something greater in return.

“What I have noticed about Americans culturally, is that we are very closed off and we are very focused on keeping our business to ourselves, so we don’t really reach out,” Taylor said. “But when you go to another community, people are so open to each other and so friendly. Even if you don’t know them once you inquire about their life you truly feel for that person, and it’s not a fake ‘how is your day?’ They really do care how your day was, which would be a really good thing to have”

Changing the dynamics of a whole culture seems drastic and basically impossible, but just like learning to walk, it must start with baby steps. When trying to spread happiness to the entire world, it all starts with one smile.

“We thrive off of happiness; it is something that we need on a daily basis to survive,” Taylor said. “You can smile at someone in the hall and make a difference. Whenever someone smiles at you, you get that feeling that that’s just one more person that cares about you. To constantly be loving on people—we don’t do that as much as we should, at all.”

But like any other battle, one must never go alone. Just like Batman has Robin, and SpongeBob has Patrick, Taylor has senior Reggie Fenner.

“I love the story of how me and Reggie met. When we were in junior high she hated me because I was very sarcastic to her and she didn’t get it. In high school we had study hall together for three days before we found each other at lunch and then became inseparable,” Taylor said. “I would say that Reggie has seriously impacted me so much because she loves me so much like a sister. She keeps me accountable; she’ s so hard on me. She is my person to go to.”

It all comes down to remembering what we are thankful for, not only in the good times, but in the rough times. What makes this easier than it should be is the strange fact that, no matter how fast or hard things are falling apart in your life, there is always at least one thing to be thankful for, even if it is as small as the air in your lungs.

As Taylor poses for pictures with her family tonight, the happiness seen in her face will be result of what surrounds her, and, most importantly, what lies within her. Despite what has happened around her in the last few years, her spirit will constantly seek blessings before disappointments.

“A few days before freshman year, my parents separated because my dad was an alcoholic,” Taylor said. “It has been tough going through that because it is hard to have a relationship with my dad, who can be here one week and then disappear for three months. It’s a struggle because a parent is a person you naturally want to trust and love, and to not feel like you’re receiving it back is tough. But I also know that God is always right behind me and that I can fall back on my faith. It’s such a different sensation than anything else in the entire world–to feel loved by someone as great as that.”

Ironically enough, tonight America will give thanks for the wonderful things in life that make each and every person happy to be alive. Yet, as soon as the clock strikes midnight, America will storm the stores in search for a new phone, flat screen TV, the next hottest shoes, or  whatever pleases the eye, quickly forgetting how meaningful the things of yesterday were.

My challenge for you all today is not to find the reason for your life but the reason for your smile. Do you want that to be something you can buy, or something priceless?

“I read this the other day and I was just astounded by it. This is an actor’s Wikipedia page, and you really don’t see a lot of actors speaking up about being Christians. In a recent interview, Zachary Levi said ‘my job on my set, I believe, is to first just love people and gain that trust with people where they know that I really do love them and care about their well-being, so that when they are running into problems, they will hopefully, at some point, come to me and ask me, ‘What is your peace all about? What is your comfort all about? Where do you get your love? Where do you get your talents?’ And I can turn to them and say without blinking, ‘Jesus Christ,'” Taylor said. “Knowing that this should be the reason behind the love in my every action, and knowing that is my goal in life is the reason why I smile.”