The One with Laughter and Tears

I don’t think there will ever come a day (at least I hope there won’t) in which I don’t find a way to laugh. Now after a year like 2020 I also had a lot of days that also included more tears than laughter.

Sometimes laughter is ironic, like a couple months ago after my dad’s house burned down in a wildfire and I reached out to someone on about renting out their place to my dad, only to find out their house is also burned down in said fire…. I feel a little terrible to say I laughed in that moment, but let’s be honest, what other choice did I have.


Now when it comes to comedic relief in my life I take this matter very seriously. Hannah Montana was my go to comedic relief for yearssss. And yes, even at the time I was watching it I was too old to be watching it. Reba (certain seasons) was also another favorite for me. Shows like Friends, HIMYM, and New Girl as I’ve grown older have become staple pieces in my comedic relief tool belt that I reach for.

These all have in common for me one thing- easy. They are freaking easy to laugh at. It doesn’t take many minutes in any of those shows for me to be genuinely laughing at or alongside them.

Life is pretty freaking hard. Has been since day 1 and probably will be till the end. But I’m thankful for easy humor, that is far distanced enough from my life and circumstances that I can find it funny. Like never was I ever a pregnant teenager or single mom with my ex husbands mistress as a best friend. I was never a pop star country girl living a double life. And as much as I wish it were not the case, I’ve never shared a loft, a hallway, an apartment with 2+ lifelong best friends who I misadventure with through bar scenes and dating scenario faux pas.

So I laugh.

If I were to be honest about my life, I laugh a lot in general even outside of my comedic relief fixes. I had a therapist in college once tell me that if I didn’t have something good to say, find something good to say. I didn’t recognize it at the time but that shifted my approach to life.

Real talk for a moment: sometimes laughter is important because depression is also very real. The bible describes laughter as medicine and if that’s the case then I definitely want to take it like some daily vitamins right alongside those lovely anti-depressants I’m so thankful for. My early life had some very beautiful and fond memories of my childhood in Japan. Of ski slopes, beach trips, playgrounds, bike rides, making friends- the normal beautiful moments of childhood.

But my childhood also had a lot of darkness. Abuse, anger, loss, grief, bullying, confusion, betrayal. I use only words because the stories are for another day and another time. As a 13 year old girl I distinctly remember standing on a cliff overlooking a captivating scene. Ocean, as far as I could see. Waves, crashing over and over against the barrier rocks and along the beach as beach goers frolicked and old Japanese grandmothers walked along picking up trash in between shells. The sheer beauty of the ocean between the cliffs of neighboring mountains. The wind whipping my hair around my ears, across my lips, and up into my eyes as single tears glanced down my cheeks. My fingertips pulling at the edge of my long black sleeve that I edged down to cover my arms in shame. My other arm grasping me tighter to make me feel safe. Since the black long sleeve in 90 degree heat seemingly couldn’t do that though the scratchy surface that ran along the dry skin underneath begged to differ when I shrugged it on earlier that morning.

Why do I tell you the story of that 13 year old girl?

Because that’s exactly the story and moment I picture every time I fight for my laughter. When I take my daily dose and I breath in that beautiful refreshing air of joy its because I fight to never lose myself, never let that little girl lose the beauty of the moment that had almost swallowed her whole in pain.

A little irony or poking fun at the girl in the long dark clothes on a hot sunny day does the trick

Most of our most painful moments in life are like that. Or maybe they just are for me. There’s beauty somewhere in that picture. The beauty in my picture was the scenery around me that I almost missed. But there was also a beauty in my soul in that moment that showed up and was determined to fight. But sometimes the beauty in a crappy date, is the story that came out of it. The beauty in a broken relationship is sometimes the magic of learning how to say no, to put up a firm healthy boundary. The beauty in a home that burned to the ground in a wildfire, is realizing how many people around you love you and want to make sure that you survive this.

Sometimes pointing out the beauty in the midst of pain feels ironic or sarcastic though and yet somehow that slight edge of the dark humor edges into your heart, lifts a gentle corner of your mouth and lights a corner of the darkness for a moment.

I read a book recently called “Humor, Seriously”. Now, I read this book after I was told that my humor was missing the mark and that people at work would survive if “Desiree wasn’t funny for a few weeks”. With humor being something so core to me and how I cope and survive the world, it hit like the Taliban government- silent and quick and threatening to exterminate any dissenters….

Kidding! Too soon I know… There’s that crappy humor again!

But truly, hearing that was hard because humor is definitely a part of how I cope and how I connect. Hearing I was failing at that was a blow for sure. But I started reading this book and can I tell you…. There’s a reason that comedians that make good money do. Its difficult and nuanced and the difference between between being a jerk and being funny is usually about one “yo mama” joke away from one another.

Nuance is not this girls specialty unless she’s trying… hard…

So I read this book about humor and here’s my most important takeaway.

Laughter definitely matters. Do what it takes to laugh and make people laugh every day. Poke fun at yourself in your black shirt moments but let the rest be the fun and easy humor that allows people to laugh with you, not at others. It really really matters. On days when I was barely able to lift my head up from my pillow last year, laughter shifted my perspective, for even a moment, to help me to bear the weight of the things in front of me

Laugh early, laugh often, laugh innocently.

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