I recall one summer break in the 90’s when my grand-aunt pulled me aside and told me “Enough with the joking thing! You are not allowed to be funny. There will be no laughing in this house until your sister is well.” I was scolded in a shouting-whisper kind of way so nobody else would hear.
My sister had Bell’s Palsy. It is a condition caused by a trauma on the facial nerves that causes one side of the face to droop. It caused her to speak slurred sentences and made it seem like laughing was painful. It was disheartening to see.
But I did not get the no laughing rule. I believed we were at a time in our lives when we actually need more of it, not less. So I joked and laughed anyway. The more I was told to stop joking around the more I did. In fact, I kept count of how many times we laughed. I felt like it intensified my rebelliousness the more times we did it. My rebel-without-a-cause phase!
Once while with my sister for her therapy at the doctor’s clinic I asked, ‘does it hurt to laugh?’ She said no. It was just stiff but no pain. So we laughed away all summer long. Soon after, my sister healed.
Because of that I developed the habit of keeping count of how many times I laughed a day. Even the ones that happen inside my head just to myself. My most favorite thing about this human experience, more than kissing, is laughing till I cry. I give extra points for laughter tears.
Those are the moments I remember most in my life. Times when I laughed till I cried. Some accuse me of being a bully for joking around too much. But bullying is tormenting, teasing is just playfulness. Those who are so easily offended probably didn’t keep their insecurities in check. I kept note of those people, I made sure I am around them less and less.
I have always felt buoyant. It seemed to me that God had designed me to have a default setting for the bright and breezy. Even scary, worrying, and annoying things turn into something humorous in my head. When I experience troubles and sadness it doesn’t take me long to get back to my normal buoyant self. I used to think it was a super power. Maybe it is.
I think it is God-ordained for there to be a certain intensity of laughter we cannot contain. There’s no fighting it, there’s no holding it in. We just have to release it out to world. So whenever I feel like laughing, even if the situation says it’s not socially acceptable to, I laugh anyway. The world needs more of it…
Studies say that worldwide sales for anti-depressant drugs overtook sales for anti-cholesterol pills. In the Harry Potter world boggarts are defeated by laughter. I wish the “ridikkulus” charm works for real. Our world needs to heal – maybe one laugh at a time would do it.
Even at times when it hurts to laugh – we should just laugh anyway.