Don’t Stop Laughing
“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.” (Henry Ward Beecher)
I love to laugh. Sometimes I cannot control my outbursts at inappropriate moments. A tickling sensation starts deep down in my belly and it visits every neighboring organ like a fly at a picnic. Eventually it becomes so consuming that it just has to come out.
When I was babysitting my grandchildren, my grandson, four-year old Max, wondered why I was laughing at him so much. His unique view of life and wide grin always amuse me.
“Do you have the sillies Mimi?” he asked when observing my juvenile behavior at the breakfast table.
“Yes,” I replied, still giggling.
“You need to just let them out,” he wisely advised me.
Allowing yourself to feel and let out the “sillies” is hard to do when you have suffered a loss. We tend to hold back our natural reactions after suffering a tragedy. We are not in a joyful mood. And so we manufacture an extra layer of protection over our natural lightness while we are trying to regain the smallest bit of control over our shattered and dismantled lives.
Humor is a release and should be a welcomed emotion. What can start out as a minor snicker, can build up to a hearty upper body laugh, and finally end up in a full-out knee slapping hysterical moment. Our internal organs are massaged as they jiggle around when we laugh. Doctors say that is healthy too.
I am not sure when we start to develop a sense of humor. It must be a process. Young parents always try and make their newborns smile and chortle with their own funny adult faces and weird sounds. Toddlers laugh at just about anything related to bathroom functions and especially are entertained if spaghetti is hanging out of your nose. Preschoolers find lots more to laugh about when they are around each other. The Happy Train pulls right up, “all aboard” and humor becomes a part of their lives and it is refreshing to watch and to listen to.
Max developed his own sophisticated sense of humor at a very early age. Let me share this little story and you will see what I mean.
In a hurry to complete her weekly grocery shopping on a Saturday morning, Samantha was quickly navigating the crowded aisles of the neighborhood grocery market. Max, her then 2 1/2 year-old son, was riding high in the seat of the cart while his infant sister Charlotte was taking her morning nap down below with a variety of produce arranged around her car seat. There had already been a few undesired items snagged from the shelves by Max’s quick hands. When the extra groceries were discovered, my daughter surreptitiously hid them on random shelves in subsequent aisles in order not to lose any momentum.
Time and patience were both running out as Sam frantically darted down the aisles while focusing on the essentials on her list. Charlotte was starting to stir and Max was becoming more restless, reaching for anything at his eye level while chattering away.
“Ah, paper towels,” thought Sam, “…the last thing that we need.”
Wheeling around the corner to a congested outside aisle, she spotted the paper products at the far end of the pet food section. Making a strategic move to avoid any more unwanted treats, she swiftly circumvented the lazy morning shoppers who were casually picking out their pet’s favorite treats, deciding between canned products or bags of dried food. With herculean determination, she steered her crew down the middle of the pathway like an experienced racecar driver on the final lap.
“Don’t make me eat cat food anymore!” Max suddenly blurted out in his high pitched voice.
“I don’t like cat food, mother!” he announced while increasing the decibels for all ears to hear.
Confused, startled, and panicked, Samantha felt an urgency to escape and started jogging with her cart as additional curious sets of eyes followed her trek.
While proceeding full steam ahead, she attempted to process the outburst in her jumbled mind.
“What was he thinking?” she wondered.”We don’t even have a cat!”
Trying to avoid further disapproving glares and struggling to even come up with an offer of an explanation to her onlookers for his unusual plea, she glanced down at Max who was smiling up at her with the widest, impish grin. There was a mischievous twinkle in his wide blue eyes. Overcome with embarrassment and unwilling to take the time to determine his motive, she raced to the nearest check-out counter, unloaded the packages around Charlotte’s head and exited the store without making eye contact with any of the customers or staff.
That evening when Samantha phoned to tell me the story, she was laughing, but she was still perplexed by Max’s seemingly sophisticated sense of humor. I told her that indeed he is a clever little boy, and that maybe they should consider getting a pet…perhaps a dog since Max doesn’t like cat food!
On days when my life style becomes too artificially complicated, I think about this story and snap back to a happier me. I have requested of my children that they let me know when I might be heading to the “dark side” and direct me to “lighten up”. My grandchildren do that just with their presence.
I know that we cannot exist in this state of euphoria all of the time, but at least once every day we should have a light moment and a chance to let out the “sillies”. I firmly believe that life is to be enjoyed. Some days we just have to work a little harder at it than others.
“A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.” (William Arthur Ward)
Did you laugh yet today?