Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Laughter and Tears

Years ago, fresh out of college, I applied for a job at the local library. It was the ideal location and the job requirements were a perfect fit for my qualifications. I was eager to start working, putting my knowledge to good use and earning some money after spending exorbitantly on my education at graduate school here in America. Imagine my over the top excitement when I got the interview call and my enthusiasm when the interview went well (or so I thought!) I got emotionally attached to the job, dreaming about buying a new wardrobe of work clothes, the kinds of library programs I could offer, how I would spend my first salary and so on and so forth.
My husband would jokingly tell me that if I get the job he will quit his and take a break and stay home for a while and he will do a better job of having dinner ready for me than I did for him. 
When I got the call one morning that I did not get the job, I took it very hard and immediately called my husband who was at work and with tears streaming down my cheeks and between heart wrenching sobs, I told him, “Come home right now, I really need to hug you and cry” and he replied “Accha , tumko to job mila nahin, ab mera bhi chhudwa do (Well, you did not get the job and now you are calling me back home so early- you want me to get fired too!)” I do not know if you all find his response funny or not but at that time it made me laugh so much that I instantly felt better. 
That is what uncontrollable laughter does to you; it makes you feel lighter and happier than you did a minute ago. I milked my sorrow for all it was worth, I was treated like a princess for a couple of days, dinner, chocolates, Tiramisu cake, lots of hugs and cuddles, anything to make me feel better and I did feel better soon.
This year, we completed twenty years of married life. On the day of our anniversary, while the kids were at school, we ate breakfast at Panera Bread, relaxed at home for a bit and decided to go to British Bulldog Pub for lunch. On our way, we saw an Irish pub called Tilted Kilt and I said, “Let us try this place instead.” As soon as we entered, we noticed that there were a bunch of waitresses scurrying around in micro miniskirts, bared midriffs and very low cut shirts with everything spilling out. Now there is nothing wrong with such a scene, just that my prudish self was not expecting it at all. I do not know what hole we live in but we had never been to, or heard about this place before. In any case, when my husband asked me if I wanted to stay or go somewhere else, I said, “ We can stay” and he said “Thank you dear, now you have made this anniversary very very happy for me” and he said it with such a straight face that I laughed out loud and I was absolutely comfortable. Laughter does break the ice and the stunned silences and it puts you at ease.
Laughing has not always been easy for me. At 15, I lost my big, strong and loving dad and as soon as I lost him I also lost a lot of my self-confidence and my joy for living. A sense of sadness, gloom and despondency pervaded my being which was easy to disguise but hard to shake off. I also lost my sister who was young, dynamic, beautiful, outgoing, smart, and vivacious and just the loveliest human being, in a terrible train accident. She was 25 when it happened, I was 24. She was my best friend, guide and philosopher. When life deals you these terrible blows it almost cripples you. I had shed a lot of tears and still do and that is important as it purges your grief, but, over the years I have realized that we only have one life to live and despite the struggles, we have to find time to laugh and live life with zest and passion.
Audrey Hepburn has said “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills.” I could not agree more. I love being with friends and family who are witty and who can make me laugh. Laughter is contagious and it lifts your spirits up. I love those laughs which start out loud and then turn into silent laughter and ultimately it gives you tears and your stomach hurts. Sometimes, I laugh so hysterically that I lose my balance, fall on my husband and we are both laughing and our pot bellies are shaking against each other in spasms. I think we can all remember laughing so uncontrollably that the food or drink splatters out of our mouths!
Nobody likes whiners. I admire people who may be really upset about something but instead of going into a rant of despair and making everyone around them miserable too, they talk about it in a humorous way. Some of my favorite Facebook updates from my uber funny friends include:
“For those of us who enjoy the challenge and frustration of working out and not losing weight... Cadbury mini eggs are 50% off at Target.” The above quote is so funny, it makes you laugh instead of feeling depressed about your weight and weight loss efforts.
“After being clean, buttoned and zipped (and a little muffin-topped) during Grandma's visit, my house has put on yoga pants!! Namaste.” This update is so relatable and put together in such a smart and funny way than merely saying- “oh well, my house is a usual mess after grandma left.”
“This dress exacerbates the genetic betrayal that is my legacy” Who does not love this quote from a famous movie; we all have hereditary trouble spots! 
I love watching shows like Ellen and Jimmy Kimmel Live. I am really impressed with and inspired by Monroe Martin, a recent contestant of Last Comic Standing. This young African American comic had a horrific childhood, his dad was in prison, his mom taught him to shoplift, he was shuffled between foster homes 14 times in 15 years and he jokes that he was on tour and he came to school with luggage, waiting for his next flight! After this horrendous childhood, he still has the grace to make people laugh by his side splitting spin on those painful incidents. 
Some of his jokes include:
“I went to Martin Luther King High School. Yeah, my school was definitely not his dream. My school was documentary bad” 
“My mom was the type of person you had to pat down after a hug” (she was a thief)
“If a Black Batman came to save you, he would still be the prime suspect”
He wishes he had told a former foster mom who earned $750 a month for keeping him but would not let him watch TV, “I can’t watch TV, B!^#$, I pay the cable bill”
Laughter and tears are both significant. Sometimes people do not cry, they bottle up their emotions which is not beneficial for their health. Men have a more difficult time crying than women, we are better with the water works. Strong men need to cry too, crying cleanses our soul and rids it of toxic and painful residue. However, do not be down in the dumps for too long. 
Life is beautiful: live, learn, lighten up and laugh. Life is a lot more bearable when you approach it with a sense of humor. Laughter definitely is the best medicine.

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