After I posted about the benefits of laughter the other day, I thought about it some more.
As a girl, I laughed a lot. My beautiful mama is always laughing, easily seeing the funny side of things and never taking life too seriously. In our home as I was growing up, every day there was laughter; I can still now see in my mind’s eye, my sister rolling on the floor clutching her tummy because she was laughing so hard; and that would be a regular thing with us. My father had a sharp, clever sense of humour, and his conversation was shot through with wit.
As a young woman, I found many things amusing. And now, I just don’t. There’s a song by Paul Simon (Call Me Al, I think) with the line “I don’t find that stuff amusing any more”; it often comes to mind as something that resonates.
I’ve read of people who were badly ill and shut themselves away to watch funny films, laughing themselves back to health; but I watch comedies sometimes and turn them off halfway through, bored. Occasionally a film or a book raises a smile, but hardly ever makes me laugh. And I'm not even ill.
On Facebook friends post things tagged with remarks like “ROFL”, “ROFLMAO” and “I laughed until I cried”. But (guess what) I look at them, and don’t find them funny. A recent one was a YouTube video of dogs who feel guilty. It was supposed to be HILARIOUS. I found it heartbreaking. Why is it even meant to be funny to see animal after animal so ashamed?
These days, I feel worried – about the weather, about climate change, about people who suffer, about our appalling government, about my failure to be the person I could/should be, about finance sometimes. I feel tired. And I feel sad – that my involvement in the church no longer excites or even interests me (though my faith still sparks and flares), that I haven’t the stamina for social occasions, that I cannot be the person others wanted me to be. I start reading books and weary of them – not all; there are some writers (Ursula le Guin comes to mind) whose work still wows me.
How does a person laugh who doesn’t find things funny any more?