Laugh Me a Rivers

The news about Joan Rivers’ medically induced coma makes me sad.  Perhaps there is a part of me that hopes somebody, anybody, will outrun illness and death. That Betty White will be accepting an Emmy ten years from now, even if she’s two feet tall. I think the women of comedy are a force of nature.

Laughter has been my best friend and companion since the day I entered this earth. I’m pretty sure that when the doctor pulled me out of my mother, I made a joke about the size of my ass. Because laughter allows me to face life with courage. If I can laugh at it, then I can endure it.

There’s that inspiring story of two men imprisoned during the holocaust who committed to tell each other one joke a day so that they could remember that their souls were bigger than hatred.

As Lucille Ball said, “I’m not funny. I’m brave.”

[quote button_text=”Tweet the Quote”]So, in honor of Joan Rivers, I’ll keep choosing laughter over tears.[/quote]

Here are five times in my life, in no particular chronological order, when I chose laughter . . .

  1. Yesterday, when I dropped my freshly dry cleaned sweater in the toilet, I cursed first. Then I threw it. And when I told my mom about it she laughed, and I laughed, and it all felt better.
  2. When my son was first born and I was still donning a breastfeeding bra, I taught a leadership class wearing a white blouse. Only at break did I realize the right flap of my bra had been down the entire time. A wardrobe malfunction that did not make the news but did make a few men in the class pay closer attention. When I asked them why they didn’t tell me, one of the men replied, “Why would we?” Then the whole class burst into laughter. My nipple had still been exposed, but I wasn’t traumatized anymore.
  3. My first kiss was at the age of 12 with a hot guy named Mike Law. He was 14 years-old, and I was moving away, so I think he was trying to give me a good memory. As usual, I couldn’t be submissive. I had to go for it, throwing my head towards him which caused us to hit teeth. I actually slightly cut his bottom lip. He started to laugh even as he wiped the blood from his mouth. Too bad the aggressiveness of “Fifty Shades of Gray” wasn’t bigger at that point in time — my kiss would have been considered dominating and hot. Regardless, once Mike started laughing then I started laughing and we ended up doubled over in the church parking lot. Embarrassment became joy.
  4. When my kids were little, I had a particularly bad day. My daughter and I had been arguing all morning even though she was only four years-old. Later, at my in-law’s house, I asked her why she wasn’t speaking to me. “Because at home you called me a wittle piece of cwap,” she responded. Rather than questioning my mothering skills or whispering about me, everybody burst out laughing. I was saved.
  5. And, most of you know the breastfeeding story. I mean, when you breastfeed the wrong baby and don’t even notice, laughter is required.

Sometimes, we take it all too seriously. . .

Too often we let the heaviness of life weigh us down, and forget that there is a way to force air and sadness out of our soul, if only for just a moment. Is there anything more empowering than throwing your head back and laughing at the absurdity of it all?

We all know the health benefits of laughter, but I’m not sure we realize the mental benefits as well. When we lost Robin Williams, it made front page news in my hometown, because we could not fathom that someone who brought us so much joy was also so very, very sad. Maybe we should have worked harder at making him laugh.

So, let’s choose laughter . . .

Whether you agree with Joan Rivers’ style or not, she is one courageous woman. I came across a scene of one of her television shows one evening. She was being dropped off on the porch of her new home in California after having left her best friend and life in New York.

A camera was positioned across the street and stayed on her as the truck pulled away. She looked small and vulnerable, and I thought she was going to cry. Instead, she started to do a soft-shoe dance, said something to herself, and threw back her head and laughed.

In that moment, she wasn’t Joan Rivers. She was an emotional Joan of Arc.

I call that courage. So, join me in laughing a Rivers. Share with me, in the comments below, about a time when you chose to laugh.