Laughing Matter

Laughing Matter

Maybe it is because in life I have found myself with little. Maybe it is because, in that same life, I have found myself with much. I know nothing about past lives and past life regression, but what I do know, is that even in my limited time on this earth, in this changing form I am tempted to believe is “Kevin Thompson”, I have lived in different ways, in different places, and with different people.

I have been asked for spare change and I have asked for spare change. I have been given love and I have given love. I have offered spiritual help and I have received spiritual help. I have been content and I have been discontented in many ways. My life appears, from a distance, to be floating on top of an ocean. Being raised and lowered on waves waves of fortune and misfortune.

What is encouraging to me, is that even at its lowest point, my life never sank into the depths of that proverbial ocean. I have always had my breath. There was always the chance, if not only the desire, to see the sunlight or rain given from the sky. Though some might claim perseverance, or recovery, or healing, or determination when they find themselves in a high point of their life, I see only waves.

I do not know how long a high or low wave will last, but I do know that whether it is a high or low wave, it will not stay the same. The secret for me is not concerning myself, with which wave is which, whether the wave is rising or falling, or if the ocean will suddenly cease to rock. The secret for me, is knowing that I am floating, and beyond keeping the ship that is my life upright, and on top of what comes in the form of these waves of material things, respect, health, or well-being, there is little more to do.

What I am about to share may be considered heretical. It may be considered a bit of insanity. I will share it anyway. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I meditate. These are not mutually exclusive activities, but for me they are a bit different in the way I approach them. Sometimes, I listen to teachers that I used to consider so far gone, that even their names brought an unease.  Though I travel to what I consider the edge of reason with teachers who see possibilities other than what I am used to, I am floating quite nicely.

One particular morning, while meditating in an effort to clear my mind of a very specific set of thoughts grounded in how wrong the world has gone, I saw, in my mind, the face of the Dalai Lama. Not as a figure to be worshiped, not as a great teacher, but as a confidant, friend, and wise man. My temptation in the meditation was to share with him every trouble and trial in the world, that I felt was unjustified.

Before I could speak, he grinned, and then smiled, and then laughed. Not at me. Not at the situation that was on my mind, but as if to say, “I get it, but who knows…”. And this for me was a revelation. The fact that at times we can laugh at what seems so absurd, is in a real way our only shared experience. When we can laugh at our own predicament, or our own situation, we liberate ourselves from being attached to them.

Things upset me sometimes. I never want others to feel like I am laughing at the way they are experiencing what life has brought them. I do understand, that most things are funny. At times, none of this world makes any sense, yet sometimes it all makes perfect sense. By laughing at it all, we do not laugh in a dismissive, condescending way. The secret is to laugh like you were a child on a merry-go-round (when they were considered safe). Always enjoying the ride, the suspense, and the abandonment and trust it takes to let another spin you around.

It is all fun and games until somebody gets a leg broke. But it is easily seen that it is still fun and games for those without a broke leg. It is, even still, tempting to mend the broken leg and get back on the merry-go-round. There are serious issues with living. There are important jobs to be done. Unless you are like Ricky Gervais, you might not be tempted to laugh at a funeral. None the less, laughter is a great response when we are faced with what we consider to be very, very, very, serious times. Not in a way that negates the task at hand, but in a way that helps you enjoy the task at hand.

Ecclesiastes declares that “all is vanity and a striving after wind”. To some extent I agree. But to another extent, and one that I go to often, I say that all is a cosmic joke. And to illustrate this, I will offer a joke, sent from a friend and coworker of mine today.

What goes “ooooooooo, ooooooooo”? A cow without lips. He sent me this joke because I have a habit of telling dad jokes. Had I not told those dad jokes over the past three years, he would not have sent me a picture of a milk carton with the joke printed on one side. I suspect he sent it because on some level he was amused and wanted to share it, but on another level, he sent it to me, because he knew I do not mind corny, silly, goofy jokes. And this is life for me.

To tell a corny, silly, goofy joke, in a serious way, expecting that half of the humor found is in the fact that I decided to tell it in the first place, is like living a corny, silly, goofy life, lived in a serious way, expecting that half the humor is found in the fact that it might matter at all. Ecclesiastes may bum you out, but my friend sent the picture of the milk carton. In some way, my actions helped create an action in him and a remembrance of me. This is the best that I can hope for in life.

Whether you think that a cow without lips is humorous, or you think it is not worth your time, you are correct. If you think a life lived for 70 or 80 years that ends, with you passing into a realm where you are no longer tied to your physical body is worthwhile, or if you think that life ending was a waste of time, you are correct. What is funny about the whole of human existence to me, is that we tend to always feel as if we figured it out.

We rebel against the generation before us and we scoff at the generations that follow. We believe we have it all figured out. We somehow think that our experience is unique because of the new technology and tools available to us, and that, what we do not understand is not worth understanding. Simply put, we are stubborn.

What is more funny than generations of people, all thinking that they have to figure life out? Only one thing. The fact that they believe, at some point, that they are obligated to have figured it out. Maybe life is only to be lived. Maybe what you have done is enough. Maybe what you are now is whole. Maybe this moment, though only the same “now” as everyone else in the world has experienced for ages, is sufficient.

The best joke I can tell, other than what we are living, is this. Two fish are in a tank. One looks at the other and says, “How do you drive this thing?”.

Nothing about this joke is real. Nothing about this joke makes sense. You may find it funny or you may not. But you may remember it and be tempted to tell it to a child or friend. This is living. It is not real. It may not make sense. You may find it funny or you may not. But you may remember it and be tempted to tell it to a child or a friend. Only when you try to understand it will you need to  pay a psychiatrist to hear what you have to say, or a religious leader to absolve you for what you have done.

If you enjoyed the article, leave a comment, buy the book, subscribe to the blog, or send me a picture of a milk carton. When faced with a tough decision, remember to laugh before committing to anything.


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