A Sarine Thought… or Two
Confessions of a Chronic Laugher
Okay, I admit it. I’m a habitual laugher. I laugh a lot: at home, at work, at church, in public, in private, in groups and when by myself. I laugh at jokes, snide remarks, funny faces, weird noises and the occasional instance of someone falling down (but I totally stop if I can see they are injured). I am the person who, when texting “LOL,” is literally laughing out loud! In fact, at my wedding, when waiting at the back of the church to walk down the aisle, I was scolded by the wedding planner who said I was laughing too loudly in the vestibule (it was the usher’s fault!). She said I was the first bride she’d ever reprimanded before they walked down the aisle. Go figure.
Many of my family, friends and colleagues would say my laugh is one of my most distinguishing characteristics. It is not necessarily the way it sounds, since there are, in fact, different laughs for different situations, but the most defining characteristic is its volume. I’ve never been a lady-like giggler. Never would you be tempted to give me a hug and pinch my cheek when an adorable laugh bubbles up. Nope. I’m a knee-slappin’, hand- clappin’, pants wettin’ (every now and again), tears streamin’, throws her head back and lets out a “whoop!” kind of laugher! It’s loud, and I’m proud. Ross even says that he will always be able to find me in a crowd. All he has to do is give it a few minutes, and he will hear me laughing from a mile away. HA! (See, I even type loud laughter!) Now that you know about my habit, I would like to share some observations I’ve made through my years of yukkity-yukking.
If love can build a bridge, then laughter is the raw material love uses to build it. Now, it should be noted that going through a hard situation with someone, or a group of people, may promote a bonding experience, but those are not the times you like to re-hash when getting together. Those tough times help us trust certain people are in our corner. The laughter makes us glad they’re always there. Any time I get together with friends not seen in a while, it doesn’t take long before an inside joke or funny story enters the conversation, and we all get tickled. Laughter solidifies memories so clearly. I’ve noticed, too, that the reason we were laughing isn’t what sticks out to me. What sticks out to me is the way I felt when sharing such joy and vulnerability with the people around me.
W. E. B. Du Bois said, “I am especially glad of the divine gift of laughter; it has made the world human and loveable, despite all its pain and wrong.” Now, that’s a true statement! Let’s face it, sometimes people can just be too people-y. There is disagreement, condescension, opposing views, hatred, ill will and just downright cruddy stuff when we get right to the humanity of it all. Take heart! Just like Mr. Du Bois said, we have been given a divine gift in laughter. When we laugh, walls are broken down and common ground is found. Even when mad, arguing or not speaking in a relationship, there’s nothing like a funny experience to allow the gloves to come off and to encourage positive communication to begin. Even if that funny experience is ridiculous, it creates common ground. My husband is a master at the art of diffusing angry vibes. Ross is an extremely dry-humored guy in public who can flip a switch and be a super silly guy at home. I love this about him because I think both forms of humor are hysterical in the right context. So, let’s say I am feeling “passionately” about something in a negative way (i.e., I’m ticked!). He knows just when to whip out a goofy look, say something completely outrageous in a funny voice, or throw a one-two outrageous look/voice combo punchline. That does it. I laugh, and he’s able to swoop in with a hug. Once my fiery temper is doused with the contents of his good ole “bucket of laughs,” we can start talking about what is really bothering me. His being funny, and my being an easy laugh, are keys to our family’s mental health status!
Sometimes, my laughter can backfire big time. I can sometimes lack discernment on when it is appropriate to laugh and when it is not. The older I get, the better I am with being able to identify the cues for appropriate laughter and timing. Nonetheless, I let a “guffaw,” or two, slip every once in a while. I believe the reason for my being this way is there just aren’t many situations in which I don’t find humor or an opportunity to interject it. If there is a moment where a joke can be told, I’m going to tell it. If there is a way to interject a humorous observation, yours truly will throw it out on the table. Anytime a laugh can be had, I want to have it. That said, sometimes it’s not appropriate, and it comes at someone else’s expense. If someone doesn’t intend for their words or actions to be funny, I have to figure out a way to hold myself together. Most of the time the laugh slips out, I see their hurt expression and I immediately have to apologize. Now, if the person says or does something totally idiotic, and they laugh at themselves, all bets are off! I allow myself to laugh, but I never want to compromise someone’s feelings because of my selfish desire to laugh. Honestly, seven out of ten times the person with the idiotic moment is me!
Right now, I value laughter more than ever. With all that is going on around us, a good laugh does this old soul some good. I want to encourage you to find something to laugh about today. Once you laugh and find that bright spot in an overcast world, you will find yourself being grateful for it. Regardless of the way things may be going, being grateful allows for a different perspective. God has given us laughter for a purpose, so let’s not waste a single chance to have, share or give a laugh!