Time to Lighten Up



I was maybe twenty-something, a naive passenger in a packed car, driving in circles for hours, trying to locate the address of a party located in an unfamiliar town, all because someone failed to bring the directions (my bad). I should mention this is pre-navigational instruments, pre cell-phone, pre-parental involvement era. So without detailed instructions, a local map, or an available phone booth you were essentially screwed. 

I say when you can’t change the situation, change your attitude, in a brazen attempt to ease the tension in the strained car, I said something like, “Look, a fig tree, maybe we’re in Arizona?” It was sort of funny. Larry didn’t think so. I got the look, bumped it with a soft shrug, still lost, let’s move on.

Suddenly, one of our friends, who had been cowering in the back seat during Larry’s mini rant, pops her head up, casts her eyes about, and says with enormous sincerity, “this looks familiar.” Trust me, she had never been in this neighborhood, I’m talking never, but she did live in Arizona for a while, which made her comment all the more funny. Grenville Kleiser says good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. 

With that said, burdens be damned, I totally lost it.

Those three words tickled my funny bone something fierce. I rolled into such a deep-rooted belly laugh, tears rolling down my face, feet flailing in the narrow space, the truth is I feared wetting my pants. My laughter went from giggle to gasping for breath, holding my belly as it was threatened to cramp, and I think I sprayed the windshield with spittle. All worth it.

It makes me laugh now just recalling her words, “this looks familiar.” Stephen King says you can’t deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair, and stays as long as it wants, especially when it’s inappropriate.


To this day I have no idea why I found that statement was so funny? Thank God laughter is contagious, in minutes the whole car deteriorated into hysterics, honestly, I could not pull it together. The best way to make your audience laugh is to start laughing yourself claims Oliver Goldsmith.

Like a welcome summer rain humor cleansed and cooled the interior of a rather hot and humid car (Langston Hughes). The thing about humor is it’s enefficable, impossible to put into words, it must be experienced, one of those events where attendance is mandatory. At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities says Jean Houston. Ain’t that the truth.

With all this newfound good humor we eventually stumbled on the party, but I have absolutely no memory of the house, the people, or the event, just the laughter in the car as we drove in “familiar” territory. 

Research claims the benefits of laughter are plentiful indeed, good reason to brush up on your comedic routines, spread a little joy, and as luck would have it, laughter is considered good medicine. You heard me right. It’s blows away traditional methods, daily medications, or leeches for that matter. “It’s true that laughter really is cheap medicine. It’s a prescription anyone can afford. And best of all, you can fill it right now,” says Steve Goodier. I read that laughter not only lowers your blood pressure, but reduces your stress hormones, and flattens your tummy.

Just when I thought I lost you? Yes, laughter actually flattens your tummy. Laughter alone. The hell with sit-ups. It’s like going to the gym for an hour, that’s complete conjecture, take it for what it’s worth. Makes a lot of cents! Haha, get it?

Like a dam, laughter releases a bunch of endorphins it’s as if you just ran a 5k (also pure conjecture), it boosts your immunities, and increases your sense of well-being. Norman Cousins says hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors. Screw the gym membership, go to a comedy club, something with a two drink minimum.

Sean O’Casey says it best, “laughter is wine for the soul – laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness – the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living.” I couldn’t agree more. Watch this Ellen clip and I dare you not to laugh. Go ahead try it again, at my age I’ve got nothing but time, and enormous patience.


“I love Jesus, but I drink a little,” God bless the woman from Austin with a five mile comfort zone. Her name is Galdys, speaks volumes.

Dave Chappelle says, “if I can make a teacher’s salary doing comedy, I think that’s better than being a teacher.” I may not be a stand up comedian, and my paycheck is a disgrace, but I’ve come to believe teaching is the next best thing. When I get an authentic laugh from my students, it’s pure bliss, even Anne Lamott claims laughter is carbonated holiness. 

Just the other day our class was discussing Genesis and we decided God must have a well developed sense of humor, maybe she created Eve from Adam’s funny bone instead of a boring rib, clearly Eve was totally kidding about the apple. I’m going out on a “limb” here and making the bold claim that it was actually Adam who took the first bite. That’s why God said, “behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil,” no mention of Eve whatsoever? God marches them out of paradise, Adam still chewing on the apple, but it’s Eve who gets the last laugh. She killing it in that fig leaf, and guess where the best fig trees grow? It should be “familiar” by now, that’s right, Arizona. Mark Twain claims humor is our greatest blessing. Amen.

Humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain. Edward de Bono

Not much has changed, I’m a little older, still a passenger in a packed life, as if a dog chasing her tail I find myself going in circles, but now I’m trying to locate the “hot spot” in a high tech world, there are no maps, my parents have passed, and believe me nothing looks vaguely “familiar.” 

Sometimes humor, designer sunglasses, and a great pair of heels can turn things around says Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, maybe it’s time to toss the fig leaf. Allen Klein says your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world, try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up. So I bought a new lipstick! That’s right. Bright red. It’s my new “hot spot.” Don’t worry about the color, Jerry Seinfeld says where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not color, but to accept God’s final word on where your lips end. 


I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, we’ll practice applying our new lipstick.

Anecdotes:

  • “You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.” Mandy Hale
  • “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” Mark Twain
  • “Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can; all of them make me laugh.” W. H. Auden


4 Comments

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  1. What a brilliant post. A friend sent me a comical poem she'd written about the menopause and just being able to giggle over shared experiences really helped. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

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  2. Oh my goodness, thank you Elizabeth, you had me at brilliant. I totally agree, being able to laugh about our humorous foibles is why I get up in the morning, well that, and coffee. Thank you for stopping by Living in the Gap, and dropping me a commment, made my day. Let’s keep in touch, share lipstick finds, and hot flash remedies! Laughter being our number one! 😂

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  3. Loved this post! I think it is my favorite. You have woven a beautiful web. We have all been in such a bad situation that the only release is comic relief. The Seinfeld episode is hysterical. Not sure why, but the Pez dispenser just brings out the laughs. Maybe it’s the bright yellow Urologic look? It reminds me of 2 or 3 comedic instances that continue to make me laugh at every chance. I would share them but they are in poor taste. Overall, you have done an excellent job of pointing out why laughter is chicken soup for both the body and soulI did see what you did there, with regard to what it’s worth and a lot of cents. Ha! And yes, it all comes back to Arizona. Love how this post kept intertwining with itself. A really nice read, especially with repeated reading.Anyway, keep it up.As an aside. Whenever I am driving lost with someone, and they say this looks familiar, it is usually a polite way of telling me that we are going in circles.

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  4. Hi Mike, sorry for the delayed response, I’ve been sequestered on an enchanted island (post to follow). Okay, all these years later and I never considered my friend was politely claiming, “we were going in circles.” I can’t stop laughing. A completely new take on an old situation! I love it. I grew up watching Seinfeld, enjoyed the humor, as much as the cast of characters! The reruns are just as good. There are so many benefits to laughter, we should all partake, and enjoy the healthy side effects! Looking forward to enjoying some good times and much laughter in Missouri!

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