07 October 2008
Why So Serious?
"If you don't learn to laugh at troubles, you won't have anything to laugh at when you grow old." (Edward W. Howe) Yesterday, I saw a tiny subway rat struggling with a paper plate that was twice his size. He pushed at it with his entire body, trying to move it toward the deep, dark underworld beneath the dumpster, where two of his brothers waited anxiously, sometimes darting halfway out onto the platform and then hurrying back into the cover of darkness. The little subway rat pushed and pulled and prodded at that folded paper plate, but it just refused to budge. Eventually he got tangled up in the folds of the plate, and scurried around in circles, trying to free himself. Then the subway came, and I continued my journey home, and that was the last I saw of him. It made me laugh, though, because his stubborn persistence was so human (and, I mean, come on, imagine this cute little rat running around in circles halfway inside a folded paper plate.) How many times have we all tried to get past certain obstacles and yet got tangled up in the intricacies of a situation? Or, how many times have we all gotten stuck in a web of consequences neither planned nor wanted? And yet, despite this, how many times have we refused to give up? Refused to just lay down and say "That's it. I quit." Every day, every person struggles in some way, whether it is with school, with money, with drugs, with drinking, with indecision, with friendships, with relationships, or with a number of other things. And yet, people manage to push on, despite how bleak things may appear, and that's the key to it. Press on, press on, wayward son (or daughter), and learn to laugh at the things that have brought you down. "Laughter is the shortest distance between two people." (Victor Borge) Is it any coincidence that our closest friends tend to be the ones with whom we laugh the most? (Not that I'm advocating we laugh all the time, because I think some matters are incredibly serious, but I think that we have to always hold on to that innate ability for laughter. And I think we have to remember to allow ourselves to relax with people, laugh with them. That not every situation is as dire as it may seem.) Sometimes, we just have to give others, and ourselves, a break. Sometimes, laughter can take the place of all the words you want to say. Like when he tells you that he's into this girl, what can you do but laugh ruefully about it even though you might want to cry? It's no use crying about it (I know. I've cried. It's more healthy to laugh about it, even if that's harder to do.) When you can't speak to someone because of a language barrier, what can you do but laugh about how bad your Hungarian can be and how terrible his English always is? What can he do but laugh with you? And this mutual laughter pulls on those invisible connections between people and brings them closer together. Oh, random side note sort of on that, here's some good news!! I'll close on that, and try to laugh at all of the worries and problems and fears that threaten to bring me down. I won't give up when I get stuck running in cute, crazy circles like my subway rat brother. I believe in laughter, and I believe in peace, and I believe in love.