A funny thing happened to me when I was diagnosed with cancer. Clearly, when I say funny, I mean unusual.
I stopped laughing.
Not entirely, of course. But I don’t laugh like I used to at things so meaningless that I can’t think of an example. My sardonic streak is still there; what I find funny has always been tinged with anger. But the tinge has become a saturation and the laugh that comes is often a more palatable alternative to crying or screaming.
Comedies piss me off. So do comedians, unless they’re angry, like Louis Black. We waste our time with laugh tracks and pratfalls when the world is burning down around us. I don’t need a litany of what is wrong with the world to make my point here, do I?
On a personal level, the diagnosis changed me, took things from me without my permission. Now I can’t even get a headache without a somewhat feasible fear that I have metastatic cancer in my brain.
I know there’s no going back. Cancer steals your sense of immortality and leaves behind a crushing weight on your shoulders. That cannot be undone. Carefree and blithe have been erased, in a tree of knowledge fashion.
What I’d like to do this year is to choose laughter again. Not as a way to deny the burning down world, but as a way to say, yep, sometimes it sucks. I’ve been in the pit. Still, I choose to laugh.
I’m reminded of the line from Jack Gilbert’s poem, “A Brief for the Defense.” To make injustice the only/measure of our attention is to praise the Devil. I might word that a little differently than Mr. Gilbert, but I agree with the larger sentiment, precisely because of another line from the poem. If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction/we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
In 2013, I choose to laugh.
Corresponding Motherpeace draw. I swear this was an eyes closed, deck shuffled draw after I wrote what’s above. Clearly, the universe is with me on this one. From the book, “The Fool is generally very light and joyful, reaching back in time to a ‘paradise’ of simple freedom when all energy is good energy.”