“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” (Mark Twain)
When I lost my job last year, I left my meeting with my former boss in complete shock. I had no idea what I was going to do with myself and my two girls. Devastated, and without knowing why, I drove directly to my best friend’s house. I walked up to her door, opened it, walked in to her kitchen wordlessly where she greeted me warmly and I immediately burst into tears. She hugged me, piled me in the car, drove me to a local restaurant and ordered me a tall beer. We sat and talked and truth be told, we laughed until we cried. I don’t remember what we talked about or the jokes that we told but we sat in that booth for over an hour erupting in fits of giggles and I assume making all the people around us question our sanity (and/or level of sobriety). I will always be grateful to her for that lunch.
My friends and family are like an army of goodness in my life. They overwhelm with kindness, love, and generosity… they are also wicked funny. It’s finding the funny when it seems impossible that makes life more than bearable… it gives us meaning, dilutes negativity and grants perspective. I started my humor blog www.effandotherwords.blogspot.com because I felt like my voice was becoming far too morose and it wasn’t really all of me.
When my marriage was falling apart and I finally let some friends know about my impending divorce, no one knew what to say. It was a hard time and I avoided friends to lessen the awkward tension. An email arrived in my inbox from a friend. It was this image as an attachment. There was no subject line and no accompanying text. I opened the link, read the words and the silence of my mom’s kitchen erupted in my own laughter. The sound and depth taking me by surprise. I laughed out loud, throwing my head back and feeling the laugh move throughout my whole body in a way I hadn’t let myself have in days. It felt like medicine injected directly into my soul. I’ll never forget that moment, and how it made me feel.
Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes people disappoint and everything in your life seems to fall the fuck apart. It’s unknowable, unforeseeable, and out of your control. It doesn’t feel right and it isn’t fair. It’s losing a best friend, a marriage, a child, a parent. It’s bills and money trouble. It’s losing love, it’s losing a sense of yourself. It’s losing anything. It’s being yourself at a crossroad with no clear idea which direction is the right one but a sense of urgency to keep moving.
It’s realizing that growing up isn’t all that fun. It’s realizing that you’re dancing between complete success and utter failure and that what separates those two things is often a razor thin line. It’s feeling out of control. It’s feeling helpless. It’s feeling alone. It’s feeling the weight of a world that isn’t kind that doesn’t relent.
Life is all those things. It’s also quite funny. It’s deciding that it’s still funny. A 20 mile training run in a blizzard while recovering from mono is funny, even though it was painful and probably really stupid. I still laugh when I think about it. It’s a 50lb sandbag carry up a mogul hill after four and half hours of a challenging twelve mile course with three friends and then nearly peeing your pants because your laughing so hard and your legs aren’t working and you just can’t help it.
As often as life sucks, it’s also hysterical. You can focus on one or you can focus on the other. Find the funny. Yesterday, my daughter shared a fun fact that children laugh over 400 times a day and the average adult only laughs 15. She said, “Mom, you laugh more than 400 times a day… that doesn’t apply to you.” And I laughed.