That peculiar state where laughter and tears seem to merge — that’s me at birth: laughter for what I have become, and tears for where I’ve landed. Perhaps your experience was different, though I rarely hear of newborns laughing. Most of us are usually stunned at what has happened, until some giant person in a white costume slaps our butt. Hey — welcome to Earth!
Ah, cry me a river, but supposedly we wanted the experience, and probably not for the first time. Some of us apparently fancy the opportunity to repeatedly show up, eat and excrete, and vote for the candidate of somebody else’s choice. What fun! Nevertheless, this is not about politics. Not that much, anyway.
Just so, back to the laughter. Upon inspection, doesn’t there seem to be an intrinsic humor weaving in and out of this whole affair, regardless of wherever and whatever we momentarily are? The fact that we are anywhere, masquerading as anybody, is actually a perfectly good cause for laughing out loud, but somehow along the way we learn to take it all in stride, buckle down with an appropriate frown, and dutifully accept our role in the technicolor movie of ME, with all of the amazing/mundane and/or sublime/ridiculous virtual adventures that comprise each life’s narrative plot.
On the other hand, given the way things seem to be, one might wonder whether self-destruction is a phase humans have to go through on the way to annihilation, or is there another collective behavioral choice which we have yet to figure out.
True, that’s no laughing matter, but perhaps a little humor might serve to help steer an alternate course, a happier one than the looming, sorry fate to which we seem so irrevocably committed, even as we scratch and bite and scream at each other through the night here on this pretty blue rock, drifting casually through the cool immensity of god almighty space.
Some claim that all of this was planned out in pre-existence, perhaps in some strategy room in the spirit world where everyone colluded in choosing various forms of disturbingly immature behavior for their earthly forms to manifest. This, they say, is to create lessons that we in turn keep forgetting. Isn’t that in itself somewhat disturbing? Well yes, but even so, we have to laugh, because the alternative is rather gloomy: taking it all seriously, that is, which only seems to make things worse.
Some of the religiously-oriented among us might ask: “What would Jesus do?” Well, from what I’m told, he cashed out at 33, but I’m already twice that age, and the only miracle I can do is to turn my Social Security check into wine at the local Bargain Outlet. Three cheers for wine (in moderation of course)! Here’s to you, Jesus – and thanks for the Church, what a barrel of laughs!
Alternately, did Buddha bust out in a fit of laughter when he woke up under that tree one morning? Well, he might have, judging by all of the smiling Buddha statues people place in their gardens. Nirvana means extinction – now there’s a happy thought! No choir of angels, no seventy-two virgins waiting to discover who the lucky fellow is that they are going to be spending eternity with, no streets paved with gold, no mansions in my father’s house – just vast emptiness with nothing holy in it. Warms the heart and brings a smile, eh!
Metaphysics aside, who doesn’t like a good movie? Regardless of age, race, gender, or nominal affiliation, we all enjoy a good show! It seems we keep coming back because we can’t get enough – comedies, tragedies, thrillers, and more – we love to be entertained, and hence the world we’ve collectively created to live and die in. It’s a laugh, it’s a scream, it’s the craziest dream, and it all seems so real we stay glued to the screen! Still feeling forlorn? Here, have some popcorn!