Last week someone, who shall remain anonymous, came to me with a problem. It was quite out of character. And it was quite out of the blue. A shocking self-discovery that took myself and this someone, who shall remain anonymous, rather by surprise.
As problems go, it wasn’t catastrophic. There was no narcotic addiction, there was no other man, there were no gambling debts. Thank Goodness, there was no terminal illness, no manic depression, no mid-life crisis. In fact, this particular problem was less a problem and more a stark observation. And as with a common cold or a niggling cough, the problem was actually uncomplicated. Easily self-remedied, given half the chance. But by its very simplistic nature, it was all the more startling.
Immediately the confession took me back. Back to a time when I had observed something similar in myself. Worse still, when my own daughter had observed the same in me. And at once I could relate. I could relate to the sudden stabbing pain where the cold sharp blade of emptiness had struck us both, leaving its mark in the form of a colossal and cavernous hole.
It happened a few years ago. I remember where I was, what I was doing. Something tickled me. A silly word, a funny face, an endearing malaprop. And I started laughing. Laughing so hard that I was howling, crying, hurting. And my daughter stared at me in disbelief. Until she caught it, the laughter, that is. And she started laughing with me, at me, hooting, doubled up, cradling her belly. But what of it?
She had never seen me laughing, let alone crying, hurting or howling with laughter.
I was shocked. Ashamed. Embarrassed almost.
In the six years of her life, the poor girl had never seen her own mother laugh.
Unbelievable. But that’s for another time.
Last week someone, who shall remain anonymous, came to me with a problem. It was quite out of character. And it was quite out of the blue. But it was in fact so mundane a problem, that it could almost be cured by its own ridiculousness.
“I need a laugh, ” were her words. “I need a bloody good laugh.”
She needed a laugh. And not just a giggle, a chortle or a shallow snigger. She needed to feel the peals resound through her body, splitting her sides, stealing her breath away. She needed to feel the tears streaming down her cheeks and the contortions of her face aching with joy. She needed an energising endorphin rush, a deep-rooted muscle relaxant, a free-flowing surge of blood to pump the limpness out of her monotonous being and the life-force back into her soul. She needed to let loose, to rid herself of the shackles of sensible conduct, to liberate herself from herself and from all the misery around her.
What she needed was a hoot. A guffaw. A roar.
And upon my acknowledgment of her problem, her relief was palpable. Apparently this is normal! This was not her descent into madness. This was not her losing her marbles. This was her body talking to her, as a lingering pain or a constant ache might do. This was her body spontaneously prescribing the most natural of natural remedies, a fast-acting cure that was in itself infectious. Ironic.
I recommended she book tickets for her favourite comedian, seek out a laughter clinic or attach herself to someone funny for the day. Easier said than done perhaps. You see laughter doesn’t grow on trees, especially in the sad, terrifying world we live in right now. But despite this, we could all use a laugh more often than we realise. Our relationships would improve, we would connect to others as effortlessly as one flame ignites another and we would all benefit physically, mentally and emotionally. So spare me the agony of searching for a “laugh in a bottle” miracle cure. Just tickle me quick!