This morning, Hubs did a little silly body motion to tell me something without using his words (I recall this as being a "thing" I hear mothers tell their little children-"use your words"-obviously not a mandate of Hubs' generation) and I burst out laughing. This got me thinking about laughter: the invaluable gift of this ability, which is unique to the human species (although more primitive forms of it do exist in parts of the animal kingdom). Scientists have discovered that the circuitry for laughter actually exists in ancient regions of the brain. Which brings me to postulate that it was/is a crucial, though undervalued, coping and survival mechanism. Maybe you and I are here right now because our caveman and woman ancestors decided to see the humour in almost being gored to death by an angry spinosaurus and they did not give up because existence was hard. Looking at my own life, there have been times when the only thing that "saved" me was this innate ability. I want to tell you about one such time this morning, because for whatever reason, this came right back to mind as I sat to write here. I'd gone to see a Clinical Professor of mine in the hospital shortly after I completed my Grad Pros Residency. He tried to have me not come, talking around the obvious, telling me to defer a visit until he was back home, but we both knew he was not going back home...well, at least not to his house and family. I insisted because I felt I needed to pay tribute to him and his role in my education. It was of course, a shock to see the devastation pancreatic cancer had wreaked on his body. You must understand, this was a gorgeous older man on whom all us female residents -and even a few of the male residents :-) - had a slight Daddy-crush. To see how his physical frame had deteriorated was incredibly difficult to witness. I sat there with him, making small talk...seriously, what do you discuss when Death is right there in the room, inserting himself into the construction of every sentence? And I was all fidgety and horrified, regretting a bit that I came because I did not want to remember him like this. Then a nurse came in with his Fentanyl "lollipop", bless her heart. The pain he was enduring in these last days, he admitted, was intense and these were really helping him. He gratefully took it from her and began to explain to me that it was (then) a fairly new method of administration. Without thinking at all, I blurted out that it was a good thing that it was not so new that the nurse at least knew enough to tell him which end to stick it in. There was total silence in the room-even Death was incredulous-and I realized what I'd said. I felt my face flush hot and then suddenly, we both burst out laughing, the kind that makes your belly hurt and your eyes water, and you can hardly stop. This beautiful memory still brings me joy when I think of him: it has completely replaced all the horror of seeing his suffering and physical decline, the sorrow of a life cut short just when he was about to reap the benefits of a dedicated teaching career (he was just about to retire when his cancer was diagnosed). Which brings me to rest on the subject of "joy". I think that one day, the genes for joy will be isolated...and that they will be found to be right up close to the genes which control laughter. And both those sets of genes will be discovered to be inextricably linked to the production of neurotransmitters which are anti-depressant and engender hope and positivity and creativity....all those things which make human life rich and wonderful. The complex chemistry will one day be understood. However, we don't need to wait for that. All we need to do is experience it: by taking every opportunity to look at life as the comedy it is. Let's be silly on purpose, let us be light, let us choose not to dwell on all the pain and all the mean things other humans can "do" to us. Even when life is at its most difficult, the human spirit can triumph and is absolutely unconquerable. Victory happens when we are able to throw back our heads and laugh with abandon, even in the face of the worst possible things. This is not to say that we will never feel pain. It is to say that we CAN choose not to suffer. And that laughter may be the horse we ride to get out of Dodge. To get you started today, some of these in the video below are great fun. The last had me snorting (poor girl!).
I am a field of awareness. Any thing beyond that is identification with form...