Today I was listening to my favorite sound, that of my children laughing. They were laughing at their dad because he had done something goofy. Laughter is so important for children, for families.... for everyone, I thought. My husband and I have always said, as long as we have our sense of humor we will be OK.
Which made me wonder, what is it that is so appealing, so healing, so simply wonderful about laughter?
I started to analyze it.
You can't laugh with someone you are angry with. Try to picture that for a moment. Think of the last time you were angry with someone. If they had told you a joke, no matter how funny, you would not have laughed. So laughter signifies good feelings between people. After the apologies are said, laughter can help the mending begin, but it won't be there until some good feeling returns. That explains in part why there is so little of laughter in prison. Oh there is some laughter there, but it is usually the coarse type. An impostor, hopelessly trying to make up for the lack of the real thing. Shudder...anger is cold and dark. Laughter is not only happy it is warmth and love.
How about the last time you were sad, really sad. Could laughter reach you there? Sometimes at funerals people laugh. "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion," (Steel Magnolias). Even in the darkest of times, laughter has a way of reaching deep down and beginning the healing.
Great friendships can begin with laughter. If I can laugh with someone, I know that is a spark for a potential friendship. In fact, if someone makes me laugh, that is enough to make me want to be their friend.
Remember when you were a kid and you laughed so hard you peed your pants. C'mon admit it, you know you've done it! You're smiling now aren't you? Let's just hope the last time that happened to you was a long, long time ago.
Imagine the laughter that comes from being exhausted. You know what I am talking about. Those times you laughed until you cried about something that was not really that funny, just because you were tired. But oh how good that laughter felt. One of those times for me was when I was in the hospital, after having a baby. My sweet husband brought me flowers. Not cut flowers, but the kind you plant. I took one look at them...pretty but slightly wilted and burst out laughing. I laughed so hard I cried, and the nurse looked at me like she wondered if they had given me too much pain medication. I laughed because I know my husband so well, and I knew he had rescued those flowers from a dumpster somewhere. (Greenhouses can only sell perfect looking plants, and many less-than-perfect but nice plants get thrown away.) Of course, it only made me laugh harder when he feigned innocence to the bewildered nurse. "He brought me Dumpster Flowers" kept running through my mind and I laughed until I couldn't catch my breath. Even today, he pretends not to know what was so funny about that. And I, of course, still laugh. I don't even have to be tired.
Have you ever laughed even when it hurt? I'm not talking about those aching cheek muscles, though I love that one too. I had a c-section with one of my little blessings. My husband took me on my obligatory walk around the hospital floor, and kept making me laugh though I begged him not to. Ow, ow, ow, torture!
Laughter can chase away fear. It can't necessarily keep it away. I think of laughter in this sense more like a yippy lap dog, barking with all it's might than a german shepherd. But it can give you some respite from the fear. That reminds me of the time my husband started comparing my various health issues to what would be the equivalent in a car. At the end of it he concluded with mock sincerity that if I were a car, we would sell me to the junk yard and get something else. Wicked, wicked man! How I love him.
Sometimes we look to laughter simply for entertainment. The best movies, TV shows, books, and even music make us laugh. We must not forget blogs. My favorite blogs are those that intermingle funny posts with serious thought provoking ones.
As I think back over my life and all the tender memories, laughter is often there. It's not in the family photos, but it's there.. Sometimes it is the photographer, sometimes the frame. Yes, maybe that is it. Laughter is the frame that holds our lives together.
I wish you...laughter.