Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Do Make Me Laugh
"One of the key teachings of Zen is awareness, and laughter can be a tool to reinvigorate alertness to the present moment."--From the article "Lighten Up for Enlightenment" in the August 2009 issue of Ode magazine
Laughter is essential. I have been thinking about that, becoming more aware of when I laugh. Laughter prolongs life and helps people bond. Who doesn't like a person who can make you laugh? I once worked with a guy who used to paper my office door when I wasn't there with funny pictures: "Squiggy" from Laverne and Shirley--hand-drawn hearts around his portrait; John Travolta when he did the awful, unintentionally hilarious follow-up to Saturday Night Fever--Staying Alive; a picture of an innocent looking kitten that he colored an acidic green so it looked demonic, a zombie kitty more likely to play with a corpse than a ball of yarn. Since I worked from 10-6, I would come in later then most of my colleagues, and I would laugh at the discovery of each new picture on my door, one more outrageous than the next. He also had a knack for saying absurd things, and you couldn't help but laugh while you puzzled over what the heck he was talking about. He was a fun and well-liked co-worker.
I'd like to laugh more. People tell me I have a deep, hearty laugh ( surely a nice way of saying "loud".) My mother claims I inherited the laugh from her father, who died before I was born. I would have liked to have heard my grandfather's laugh, or ask him what made him laugh.
It seems that whenever I leave a job and get a farewell card from my colleagues, there is always someone who writes, "I'll miss your infectious laugh." Unfortunately, the person who writes this is usually someone who sat far away from my desk, which makes me blush thinking everyone in the office can hear me. But I also value that comment when I get it, because I usually think of myself as the serious, moody type, courtesy of my Scandinavian roots.
I'm trying to think about what else makes me laugh. People say Will Ferrell movies make them laugh, and I did like Anchorman but didn't laugh that much watching Old School. The British (and sometimes the American) version of The Office makes me smile, in a wincing, teeth clenching sort of way. Those old Airplane and Naked Gun movies do the trick because of the barrage of silly sight gags appearing in the background. My husband makes me laugh--sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. When I ask him how he's enjoying his book and he goes into a long description, punctuated by a knowing chuckle at some author's wittiness, I can't help but laugh--not at the witty author's remarks, but because of how much they've managed to amuse my husband. We often laugh at different things, though we both thought the French movie The Closet was hysterical.
I laugh at my mother's funny-looking animal knick-knacks. I laugh when my friend Tiffany tells me about her ridiculous boss. I need to learn to laugh at myself more (ie. lighten up.)
There are days when I feel that I haven't laughed at all, thinking too much about the state of the world, or the future, or my myriad faults. Not enough laughter, and your risk of future cardiovascular problems increases. Laughter really is good medicine.
What makes you laugh? I'm interested to hear.