Cancer, unemployment, chronic pain, financial straits, the general insecurity of our nation’s future — there are a lot of challenges in life, and some of them are around for the long term.
Other challenges, seemingly minor, still impact our daily lives. Our boss is a butt. Our kids are angry, straying into the wrong crowd. The toilet leaks. The dog has an abscess and requires veterinary attention. Insurance, taxes, and utilities all go up; our wages never do. Indigestion follows every meal.
These are problems, actually, but one of the first ways we move to overcoming them is renaming them in a more positive light — “challenges” as opposed to “painful aspects of our existence.”
Another way, and this is as odd as it is crucial, is remembering to laugh.
In this week’s visual, the Brimming Over poster by Steve Henderson Fine Art (which is available for sale, by the way — that’s how we do our best to make our living, selling art and writing, so if you feel the smallest desire to hang the work on your wall, please consider purchasing it), a young woman finds her basket of fabric overflowing onto the beach — and she’s laughing.
While it would be wonderful if the worst thing that happened to us today is that a superfluity of fabric spilled out onto the sand, Brimming Over captures the joy and laughter that are the first things to go when life’s challenges march into the dining room and sit down at the table.
And since those challenges are always there, new ones replacing old, if we don’t remember to laugh — joyfully, defiantly, with tears in our eyes — then we never will.
We don’t have to laugh at the cancer, we don’t have to laugh with the long term unemployment, we don’t have to laugh about the boss’ scathing comments regarding the project we spent two weeks overtime working on — but we do have to laugh, sometime, and at something, because laughter releases something deep inside us, freeing us, momentarily, from the problems that plague our every thought.
And if we can break away from those problems, if only for the 20 seconds it takes to throw our heads back and guffaw over some stupid joke or one of those endless funny posters on Facebook, then we have broken the cycle of angst and worry and pain.
If you absolutely cannot think of any single thing to laugh about, start here, with Fawlty Towers’ Basil the Rat on You Tube, about a totally ineffectual hotel owner in England, his minion employee’s Siberian Hamster (which is really a rat), and the upcoming visit from the health inspector.
I assure you, if you are American, you will momentarily lose yourself if only to follow British English. But the key thing is, you momentarily lose yourself.
Life’s problems will never go away; if and when any of them get solved, others come to take their place. But how we approach those problems is entirely up to us, and laughter is a powerful weapon in our arsenal of equipment.
Laugh — at life’s challenges, with life’s challenges, about life’s challenges, in defiance of life’s challenges, despite life’s challenges — but do, definitely, laugh.