My mother used to say “Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying,” and when I think back on our days of second-class citizenship she sure wasn’t lying.
The other day Maria and I gave in to that old adage as we laughed about this and that, whiling the time away during her stay in a little two-bed hospital room at Scripps Mercy, worrying about what the doctor might say.
We started laughing ourselves silly listening to a woman’s (Maria’s roommate) emotional and animated conversation in Cantonese, with all the rhythmic inflections and rapidly changing nuances intertwined.
It was so beautiful and exciting to listen to, actually, but we couldn’t help but crack up when, at the end, the woman paused and said “Bye, bye” like she had suddenly become Lily Tomlin or Whoopi Goldberg. Looking for anything to cut into our anxiety we just lost it.
Then, a man across the hall had us holding our sides as he, out of the blue, as if on cue, from time to time, called out: “Sir! Ma’am! Help! Somebody! Anybody! I need some help here!” in a voice that would have aroused the dead, including those who were deaf when they died. We now know what “Scream like a banshee” means.
Now, hey, we’re not the kind of people to laugh at someone’s misery and pain but when you combine this man’s constant crying out to his gentle “Oh, I’m okay, doing just fine” when somebody would come to check on him, it just might tickle your funny bone at least one of those times.
Maria’s since gotten a clean bill of health, so we’ve had to move on to other things to laugh at or about. And that’s easy for us because we can laugh at the drop of a hat, a talent that should make an old friend of mine, Bob “Hubba Jubba” Moss, proud of us. Hubba Jubba is one of those motivational kind of people who lectures and coaches and mentors about joy and the healthy benefits of, what he calls, “laffter.”
I just finished reading a nice cute and cuddly guide on positive living he wrote called “The Enthusiasm-Laffter Connection.”
I learned a word to add to my vocabulary: Gelotology (from the Greek gelos, meaning laughter), the study of laughter and its effects on the body, from a psychological and physiological perspective.
“Enthusiasm,” he says on the very first page, “is the greatest life skill we can develop.”
Then he gets at how we might become excited about life and see the humor in things.
He says “Having a bad day? Then fake it to make it; no one needs to know.”
He suggests that we look for ways to enjoy what we do for the sake of our wellness; find joy in it somewhere, he encourages: “Just have fun!”
And I had fun just playing with his ideas in my mind and I learned a word to add to my vocabulary: Gelotology (from the Greek gelos, meaning laughter), the study of laughter and its effects on the body, from a psychological and physiological perspective.
Regarding that I would think telling your parents that you want to become a gelotologist would be on a par with telling them you want to be a philosopher or a fine arts or English major. In the scenario I don’t see mom and dad laughing at all. Heart attacks are not funny.
Some of what the book asks readers to consider resonated strongly with me. Like studying the style or a gesture or the way some dynamic person you know moves and rehearse what you see in front of a mirror.
When I played high school basketball there was a great player I competed against (in college too) whom I deeply admired and I copied some aspects of his smooth, “no sweat” way of being on the court. Next thing I knew, I was hearing my name mentioned with his, and I went on to Arizona and played ball as “Easy Ernie.”
The book’s “Never fret or give up when the going gets tough,” paragraph made me think about how in junior high, if I had not loved the game so much, I could have easily walked away from it because I had a coach who made fun of me when I went through a brief awkward stage as an athlete, dealing with a body that grew inches in a summer, leaving excruciating “growing pains” (there really is such a thing) below my knees that when touched you wanted to scream. “Shake it off, you pussy!” didn’t help. At all.
But when I look back on it, it was all a ball. We do have to laugh to keep from crying sometimes. Just like Maria and I had to “Laff it Up,” during her health scare. After all, enthusiasm, remember, is the greatest life skill we can develop. Don’t believe me, via “Hubba Jubba,” ask your gelotologist and join the struggle to get them paid the minimum wage.