Posted by: ritagone | September 7, 2011

Humor Me!

Sometimes you laugh at things that aren’t meant to be laughed at.  And that’s actually okay.  A sense of humor is not only important; in these trying times, it is essential.

“Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is,” said Sir Francis Bacon back in the 16th century in the U.K., and that still holds true today.

For example, take the recent earthquake back East a few weeks ago.  Now, for those of us who live on the West Coast under the threat of major earthquakes constantly, what those on the East Coast experienced seemed rather, well, mundane, to say the least, as far as shakers go.  I mean, we know tremblors in Southern California, and that was no tremblor to speak of.  But speak of it they did, over and over again on the news, until people where I come from had to laugh about it.  And so was born a whole spate of funny cartoons and photographs.  And if you had no sense of humor you might have been offended.  But come on, who couldn’t laugh at the photograph above and its overindulged caption of such bravado?  I know that when I put that photograph on Facebook after having received it from a friend via email, I got more comments than about anything else I have ever put on Facebook, if that means anything (which it may not).

What does that tell us?  That people like to laugh, need to laugh.  If we don’t laugh, if we can’t retain our sense of humor, we are practically doomed.  Because there is so much serious stuff going on around us, inundating us with its seriousness, that if we stop laughing, if we become sourpusses all the time, then life really does defeat us once and for all.

Back when I was dating, decades ago, when the guys came around in their horses and buggies and before cell phones and iPods and personal computers, when talking was more in fashion than it is now, so that you actually talked on a date rather than texting, I remember being asked about the most important trait that I was looking for in a husband.  I also remember pondering for a while, wanting to be seen as thoughtful and deep.

But I could have answered that question pretty quickly, even in my innocent and naïve twenties.

It was a sense of humor.

Oh, it wasn’t that I didn’t value a man of spiritual depth, because I surely did.  Nor a man who could earn a good living, because what woman would turn that down?  And of course I wanted someone who would treat me kindly and gently; I wasn’t a masochist, after all.

But I had learned at a very, very young age – because of a father who could make people laugh, mostly —  that a sense of humor could get you through a lot of very tough times, that it was a weapon against a great deal of adversity.  And so for me it became a necessity, a requirement, much better than charm or good dance steps (and didn’t that lack of requirement turn out to be a good thing?) or the ability to yodel.

And you know, sometimes God gives you exactly what you ask for and then some.  Because along came this crazy man who made me laugh and laugh and then laugh some more.  And here we are, almost 41 years later, and I’m still laughing.  And even more bizarre is that he wound up making his living making much of America – and much of the Western world – laugh also, with television shows that still strike me as funny when I see them on reruns on the tv screen.  I tell people that Steve Urkel is Michael’s contribution to Western civilization, and I say it with pride.  That’s not a half bad contribution to make to society, a character who people love and laugh at  and remember with fondness and joy.

Michael and I can still laugh our way through situations that would otherwise be awkward or embarrassing or just plain stupid.  We can call up sayings or phrases that made us laugh decades ago and can still have that same effect.  Laughter is as much a part of our marriage and our history and our life as any other good thing we can think of.

So if you find yourself laughing less these days, I’d suggest you find more to laugh about, or find someone to laugh with.  A laughing partner.  Find someone who makes you smile.  Makes you laugh.  It’s as good for the soul as praying, I can assure you.  Look up a good joke to tell someone to make them laugh or smile.  You might be able to change their entire day from bad to good.

You might have to dig deeper these days to find something humorous, but believe me, there is humor all around us.  Look for it, and you will find it.

Humor me.  Give it a try.


  1. Love it! I believe humor is part of what makes us uniquely human and is an important tool in counseling. It is really healthy to laugh and be able to laugh at ourselves. I have been laughing at that joke Michael sent Rob about the little girl and the atheist on the airplane ever since asking Rob to read it again and again with different friends….why because it makes me laugh.

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