Monday, March 29, 2010

Appreciating The Humor, Even When The Joke is on You

I was kind of disappointed this month because St. Patrick's Day came and went so fast, I couldn't get my post about good fortune fleshed out in time to write it here. It occurred to me that April Fool's day is nearly upon us, however, and it seemed like the perfect time to write something about humor and laughter.

April Fool's is a holiday for kids (and kids at heart). I don't remember any of the April first pranks from my childhood, but once in a while I'll recall a funny thing that happened in those days. Like the time I had to chase after my two-year-old little sister as she ran naked down our driveway. Or the time my friend and I were in my mom's car waiting for her to come out of a store, and the car started to roll backward. Just remembering my friend frantically trying to get the car door open still cracks me up! (The car stopped, and no one got hurt.)

Little kids' laughter is the best. It sounds so cute, and they will laugh at pretty much anything. Once when I was outside with my nephew (he was three), my cat ran past us and I said, "Look at her go," and "sang" the theme from Bonanza. The kid broke into peals of hysterical laughter, and I couldn't help but laugh as he kept giggling away.

It's easy to laugh when someone falls victim to a prank or does something funny, intentionally or not, but it's important to be able to laugh at oneself as well. In living with MS, it especially helps to be able to make light of the way this condition can affect you.

MS is full of "I meant to do that" moments. Little stumbles, falling over, dropping things. If you are able to laugh at yourself, it shows the world you have a positive attitude.

At my last MS treatment, two other patients and I got to talking about our symptoms and such. I mentioned my walking troubles, and the male patient joked about how he hopes he never gets pulled over and asked to walk a straight line. We talked about how early symptoms can appear, and I mentioned a bout of double vision I had as a kid. "Tequila has that effect on me," he quipped. "Well, this happened when I was six," I said, laughing. It's good when you can find a little humor in something that isn't particularly pleasant to have to deal with.

While it may not be the cure for what ails you, laughter truly is the best medicine. Sometimes, even when I don't feel like laughing, my cat will do something silly, and I'll crack up. Or I turn on my favorite sitcom, just out of habit, knowing that even the show can't make me laugh, I feel so bad. But I end up being wrong. It's so great that we respond naturally to humor by laughing; it's like self-medicating. And afterward, you feel better.

It's funny how some of the best moments in life can have you laughing so hard it makes your belly hurt, and even makes you cry.

Life sometimes plays some mean jokes on us. If we can't laugh at our own expense, at least being able to laugh about something, to distract ourselves for a while from whatever is going wrong in our lives, is just too good an opportunity to let pass us by.

No comments: