Several days ago I discovered something that I knew was missing in my life but couldn’t exactly come up with what it was whenever the thought would strike me over these past 15 or 20 years. After a while I simply dismissed the thought in considering that I was just growing older and the seasons of my life were changing. Then one day someone said something to me about laughter and how people don’t have belly laughs as in times past. Yes, there still are laughable situations on the TV and even some of the things said by people around us that cause us to giggle. In thinking about this change in society’s form of laughter, I realized that all of us have become afraid to tell clever jokes and make harmless fun of each others’ quirks in fear of not being politically correct and possibly finding ourselves being ostracized by one group or another for making a joke of something that could be construed as a personal attack on a given group.
Someone said not long ago that laughter and crying are so very close as far as human emotions that she would rather always choose laughter over crying. Well, I guess if we must be guarded in our showing the emotion of laughter, then perhaps we have to laugh a little more inside and let loose of extra crying on the outside. Sad isn’t it?
About 20 years ago I used to have coffee with a friend of mine nearly every Sunday at one of the coffee shops. There was an elderly gentleman who would often wander from booth to booth making off the wall jokes to everyone including perfect strangers. He’d often make us laugh simply because of his antics. As he would walk away giggling he’d continue to say, “You gotta have fun. You just gotta have fun.” He’s likely deceased by now and I wouldn’t be surprised if he died with a smile on his face. Such a funny man who continues to live in the memories of those he came in contact with during those Sunday mornings long ago.
I can’t remember the last time I was in a group of people where the laughter became contagious to the point where nearly everyone was stooped with the pain of deep and teary-eyed laughter. Many times over the years when around someone who was in the mood of joviality, we’d find ourselves coming up with the dumbest things to laugh about. And of course to raise the bar even more, we’d start mimicking some of the quirky habits and mannerisms of others we knew. I think at times we had our own personal stage of the old sitcom Laugh In. Ah yes, those were the days of laughter. After coming to the realization that I’d shed my ability to laugh and make merry as often as possible, I decided to start work at getting back to at least the point of attempting to find situations where I could say something clever and get people to laugh with me. It really is much better for the soul if we can find situations to laugh with people rather than finding things of which to laugh “at” people. Laughing with someone and laughing at someone are at opposite ends of the spectrum of laughter.
My first trial run had a great outcome today in laughing with someone. An elderly gentleman client was busy trying to get a toilet seat off when I stopped at his home. He was getting frustrated with the screwdriver and wouldn’t let me help. Finally I said to him, “Gimme that screwdriver cause you know I’ve always been quick with a screw.” Oh Mercy! It worked. We both laughed and of course being clever himself he had even more laughable comments to make. I got the screws loose and we were both all the happier for it. I hope the days arrive where we all start making our own home-grown and chemical free medicinal laughter.