Monday, February 19, 2007

laughter is good medicine. is it possible to o.d.?

The most wasted of days is the one without laughter. -e e cummings

There are a lot of funny things in life that I observe but don’t always feel comfortable sharing in a public forum; which really is a shame because these things are so humorous. To me anyhow. I think I am addicted to laughter. I know there are scientists in whites coats in labs that say that laughter is good for you. Endorphins or something. If so, why do I still have to take that one oval pill every night? Anyhow, it’s not always a good thing. The following reasons are examples.

1. I have asthma. And emotional expressions, especially laughing, can trigger wheezing and coughing. This is especially true when I am lying down. In the seven years that my cousin, Eric, and I were roommates we laughed a lot. A LOT. I cannot tell you how many times Eric had to utter the words, “Sit-up, stupid!” We can make each other laugh over the slightest things. A lifetime of on-going inside jokes will do that.

2. Uncontrollable laugher that occurs in quiet moments that do not call for laughter. Like in church. During a solo by that soprano in the cancel choir who sings with so much vibrato her hymn book shimmies. An announcement about the United Methodist Men’s pancake breakfast to raise money for the Mary Kendall Home. Or during the sermon when the pastor isn’t being funny. You know…pew shaking moments. And the harder you try to stop your giggles the harder it becomes to stop until your whole body quakes. Yeah, I’m a pew shaker.

Several years ago while attending a youth retreat, at which Eric and I were the musical worship leaders, such a moment occurred. Keep in mind we were being paid to be there. For that weekend we were basically employees of that youth director. It was our first time leading worship together for this group. During one of the worship times the youth director was delivering a message. Eric and I were sitting in back of room. My right leg was crossed over my left. Suddenly, Eric thought it would be a good idea to knock my Birkenstock clog off my right foot. It flew and landed several yards away. Oh the mayhem that followed. We were out of control. We quivered and quavered. We made those funny little sounds when a little bit of laughter escapes from you lips; which of course only makes it worse. We did not dare glace in one another’s direction. One of us would finally get it together. And then the other would start again. We knew we were being disruptive. We knew it! I could not get control! I had to excuse myself to a nearby closet stacked with brown metal folding chairs. When I thought I had gotten under control I returned to my seat. Only to once again be struck with a mean case of the giggles. I ended up spending the better half of the worship time in the lodge’s kitchen. Amazingly that youth director asked us back. And more than once.

One doesn't have a sense of humor. It has you. -Larry Gelbart

3. Uncontrollable laughter when no one else is laughing/when everyone else has stopped laughing. This happens to me a lot. And I mean A LOT. Truthfully, it can be embarrassing at times. I know my co-workers a) get annoyed with me and b) think I am completely loony when I am overcome with the giggles. My friend, Megan, who has sat in front of me for several years now, has become very accustomed to my outbursts. I am known to playfully tell friends, “I’ll punch you in the butt!” At closing time one day Megan and I were making our way towards the elevators when she sassed me. So, I punched her in the butt. Which caused her to lunge forward; she laughed and I laughed. And then I ran into a wall. That was all it took. I was unhinged.

We got into an elevator filled with people and I could not get control of myself. I stood in the corner of that elevator laughing uncontrollably. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. But I could not stop. Megan broke through the silence, “She does this all the time. She’ll be okay.” Our fellow passengers laughed lightly. For some I’m sure it was uncomfortable laughter. For others it may have been a pity laugh. And I’m sure others thought I had lost my mind. But the harder I tried to stop the laughing the harder it became to gain control over myself. No kidding, I laughed from the elevator, to my car, down five levels of the parking garage, and several blocks before I stopped laughing about half mile onto the interstate.

You can't deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants. - Stephen King


Anonymous said...

You have an infectious laugh my dear. Mom

Sarah H. said...

If you're not laughing at someone who doesn't want to be laughed at, I don't think it's a huge problem. Laughter's good!