Friday, April 22, 2016

Tell Me What Makes You Laugh and I'll Tell You Who You Are

A little while back, I read a post on Donald Miller’s blog that really got me thinking. It was about paying attention to what makes you cry.

Last week, I stood in a hospital recovery room with my husband, a doctor and nursing staff. We were all circled around a bed peering down at a little girl. Our day had included a very long wait, followed by a very long surgery, followed by vomit and finally at midnight a malfunctioning parking garage gate. But at that moment, we were all laughing.

It was laughter at something genuinely funny. It was laughter that was a sweet release from the tension that had drawn taut throughout the day.  Hospitals are uniformly drab places from the antiseptic tile floors to the wipe-off plastic chairs. So our laughter might have seemed misplaced given the setting and circumstances but it bubbled forth from all of us, uncorked.  Sometimes joy just needs to surface.

Our laughter that day was a prayer of thanksgiving. Thank you that she’s okay. Thank you for skilled hands and learned minds. Thank you for a body that knows breathe in, breathe out without being told.

So, I have to ask: What made you laugh today? Or better yet, have you laughed today?

There are many different kinds of laughter: all-out mirth, belly laughs, little giggles, chortles or swallowed chuckles.

Laughter isn’t always about humor or even happiness. Sometimes we laugh because it’s easier than crying. Sometimes we laugh to cover shame or embarrassment or because it’s a front for our true feelings.

Laughter can be a weapon or a shield.

Laughter can make us feel demeaned or discounted. It can be snide or calculated. It can be coarse or cruel.

Tears are salt and water. They pool and weep within our eye.

But where does laughter lie?  

Is it the gateway to our soul? A well-spring deep within?

We laugh until we cry. We cry tears of joy. Laughter is always an accompaniment to happy tears. Have you tried happy crying without smiling? It can’t be done.

Children laugh unrestrained and with abandon. They don’t begrudge the display of emotion. They laugh at potty humor, snafus, tongue twisters, your clumsiness, knock knock jokes, the funny knows no end.

When did the world stop being so funny?

Families and friends have inside jokes; lovers trade intimate laughter. Shared history makes things funny. Companionship and kinship can be found in laughter.

Have you ever traded amused glances with a stranger or laughed with someone you barely knew? A bond is created, a string tied.

By the same token, hearing someone mentally unstable laugh is jarring; it’s evidence that the mind is trapped.

The truth sets you free, and unadulterated laughter is truth. 

Knowing what makes you cry helps you know what makes you tick.

But knowing what makes you laugh, reminds you of how good it is to feel alive

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