I was recently offered the writing prompt, “I smile when I…?” and (perhaps ironically) just reading it made me smile. Only moments before, I’d been deeply committed to the grumpiest of grumpy states, so I quickly thanked the inquiring minds for the gift of that smile. Admitting I was so easily disarmed, naturally, made me chuckle. This let my grumpiness slip further away, and then, I giggled. The giggle startled the cat who was asleep nearby, which made me laugh out loud. It seems that smiling is something of a gateway drug, a slippery slope of goodness, that can make even my worst days suck way less.
On particularly troubling days, I’ve been known to reclaim my joy by seeing how many points I can get for making other people laugh. I get bonus points for those who spew their morning tea, and a belly laugh from my wife earns me double points, because she is much more of a chuckling-softly-to-my-self kind of person. I keep score on the Belly Tally, and it is serious recreation for me. Even the most off-the-rails day can be made right by a high Belly Tally score.
I love to make other people laugh, most certainly because I love to laugh. Laughter is like meditating, writing, knitting, or taking pictures. It feeds my soul and keeps me sane. Laughter means the world to me.
Laughter is the life jacket that keeps me from drowning as I move through the rivers of grief that occasionally appear in my journey. There were times when my heart was broken. People I’ve loved have died. Some losses ached for a while, while others hurled me into the violent rapids of sadness and longing. As I gathered with family or friends to remember the loved ones, I would wrap myself in the stories about their life. Yes, there are always tears, but the laughter was enough to keep me afloat.