Years ago, I was with my best friend sitting in the front seat of her parked Nova – you know, the kind with the bucket seats and roll up windows and an engine that rumbled and roared when the gas pedal is floored.
Anyway, we were chatting away, her 12-year-old stepdaughter sitting in the back. It suddenly came upon her that she wanted to be in the front seat, too, and as gracefully as any 12-year-old could, she flung her leg over the seat and haphazardly landed her foot in the middle of my to-go order of chocolate cream pie.
Everybody froze at that moment, time stood still as we all looked at her foot on the squished box. Then as we slowly brought our eyes up to look at each other, I glanced into the oh-I’m-in-trouble eyes with a no-nonsense look on my face and suddenly out of the blue I busted out into a full-bore laughing fit.
I couldn’t contain myself. We are talking uncontrollable seizure.
To this day I couldn’t really tell you why I laughed so hard. My laugh came from so deep within me, it shook my whole body until I had no more breath left and was gasping with sore ribs.
Meanwhile both my friend and her stepdaughter – a bit stunned at first – quickly joined in on the raucous laughter.
Afterwards, as we all leaned back in exhaustion, we glanced down at the chocolate pie oozing out of the box, smiled the biggest grin from ear to ear and hit the second round of laughter just as loud and just as satisfying as the first. In fact, more satisfying then the chocolate cream pie could have ever tasted.
I am so glad that it was laughter that overcame me instead of disappointment or anger or any other response that would have left a wound in everyone’s heart. It is in this way that laughter is truly genius, with its ability to lift the soul and pronounce a forgiveness that speaks more loudly than any capital gesture.
Laughter therefore, is the most perfect moment in health for anyone. It suspends the body in a swarm of good feelings. From infant to elder, laughing holds a wealthy power to break the vice grip of any sickness, if only just momentarily, so that a flash of goodness can feel its way into the body.
I remember my father in the last moments of his journey here on earth gave me a chuckle with his usual term of endearment – “You turkey, you” – when I caught him off-guard with a joke, his pain forgotten for a few moments and our souls forever entwined in that moment of levity.
We all need to laugh more – and not in some mechanical way as the physiological description from Wikipedia describes: “Laughter is anatomically mediated by the epiglottis constricting the larynx.” Yeah, that’s a knee-slapper.
All I know is I become lighter on my feet while the world becomes a bit brighter and the seriousness that had gripped me fades away. Remember as kids the glorious addiction of being tickled as you screamed out stop, but really meant more? It was the laughter that came out of those episodes that created the happy warm tingling afterwards, despite the torturous feeling during the fun.
I read that an average baby laughs around 300 times a day, compared to an average adult who laughs around 20 times a day – and with some personalities, even less than that. I protest right here and now that life should be so serious we loose the ability to laugh so much.
Let us engage in laughter, shout out loud the audible excited expression of guffaws and hahahahaha’s that unveil the inner feelings of tremendous joy we carefully protect within ourselves.
In the immortal words of my favorite comedian, Groucho Marx, “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”
I say, don’t let life slip on by without a daily bout of good ‘ol gut-breaking laughter. Whether it’s smooshed chocolate pies or old comedy reels, laugh, laugh, laugh.
Because it is laughter my friends, that is truly the best medicine