Don’t take yourself too seriously – this is good advice. You just need to have a good laugh. Recently on my way to church, — a relatively short distance – I saw three “fender benders,” three relatively minor traffic accidents: the value of the vehicles seeming to increase the ardor and animation of the participants – the more expensive, the angrier!
It was a day of rest. What’s the hurry – where were these people going? Nowhere special is probably the answer. Why the rush? I think that for many the answer extends no further than our fingertips – to the cell phone. Its onslaught is like an informational tidal wave. We receive 100,000 bits of data every single day according to some reports. (1) Most of it of absolutely no importance to my life. Last week the major news flashes were a celebrity death and a massive windstorm in Britain. Who cares – do you? But it does increase our collective level of angst and disquietude. This is certainly reflected in the speed of our driving, isn’t it – including my own.
The scene of a car accident is wondrous to behold. After the initial confrontation, everyone is on the phone. To whom I may ask: are we that self-important? Sell my stock, postpone my marriage, hold the presentation, I will be late. Do you believe me? I don’t. Having experienced an inconsequential vehicular “dust-up,” I can detail the results – little to no compensation and two to four hours of time wasted – wasted!
But, maybe that is the point for many people. The occurrence necessitates that one’s schedule be suspended. There is nothing I can do but wait and let the process unfold. It is, in a bizarre sense, a state of peace for many individuals, I believe. Let us just slow down. I always find it curious that there seems to be no hurried and peripatetic nature to pedestrian crowds, however. People linger in doorways and mall entrances with little desire to move forward.
Another way to have a small laugh is to just get older. In my mind, of course, I am still 31 years old – young, virile and attractive. There is a mirror in my bedroom and the morning light splays on the glass, the carpet, and the furniture around the room. The other daybreak after my shower, I proceeded into the chamber to dress. My eyes glanced at the mirror obviously looking for reassurance that my internal image matched my external self. For a moment, I was confused. My body double (2) had been replaced by that of an old man. A smile crept to my lips. Such is the vanity of the mind, I thought to myself. This is why it is so necessary to respect and even like your life. No regrets – your life is filled with lessons and experiences from the past, but you can’t relive them. Let them go and have a bit of a laugh. It doesn’t always have to be so serious.
The fantasy writer, Fritz Leiber (3) leaves with a thought: I sometimes think that what civilized serenity the British people possess, and small but real ability to smile at themselves, is chiefly due to their good luck in having had William Shakespeare (4) born one of their company.
A closing thought: We all certainly need a bit of a chuckle! I remember watching Robin Williams’ film, Good Morning Vietnam. (5) It was funny to the point that “you felt like weeping.” That said Williams’ being was not the image that he presented to the world — resulting in his eventual suicide at 63. There is a lesson here, is there not? Yes, we most assuredly need to laugh at the self, but we also need to be at peace with who we are and with God, as well. In this way, we will live an interesting and thoughtful life. We must never forget I believe that our task in life is to find our mission (6) and then contribute to the Common Good. (Parts of this essay were first published in 2021)
To sum up: This week we spoke about humor and always smiling at things in life. Nothing is too serious. Every adverse situation can be overcome with tenacity and a positive attitude.
To be noted: From Henri Frederic Amiel (7) — To know how to grow old is the masterwork of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.
Just for fun:
This week on your fun-filled stroll, please think of how you can smile at yourself.
Every day look for something magical and beautiful.
Don’t be a wage slave – critical thinking is great!
Quote: Laughter is the glue that binds humanity to its understanding of immortality.