Is laughter the best medicine? I’m not talking about giggles or polite laughter at a joke or a reference that’s not really funny but you’re supposed to insert said appropriate laughter here. I’m talking for real, serious, tears streaming down the face laughter.
Earlier this semester the lovely Nick Jeffries from Camp Chestnut Ridge came and did some great team building stuff with our campus ministry. We did a mirroring exercise where we all stood in a circle and we’re supposed to be copying another person in the circle, so let’s say I was supposed to be copying Jane, Jane is copying Chris, Chris is copying Malcolm, Malcolm is copying Lisa and Lisa is copying me. It only takes one person to start copying a random thing and people are cracking up. Or at least people like me are cracking up. There’s something that is absolutely contagious about laughter and being silly that if we let our guards down even in the most stressful of times in the semester, we will readily and eagerly “go there” and crack up for awhile.
Tonight Mike and I went to see the movie Bridesmaids (yes, insert all sorts of cautions, parental controls, and other red flags here). I saw it a conference a week or so ago and laughed so hard I cried, multiple times. In telling Mike about the movie, I couldn’t figure out if the movie was really funny or if merely watching it with a theater full of laughing people and joining in laughing at the movie but also laughing at their reactions and raucous laughter was the thing that made it so hilarious. After now seeing the movie twice (judge away, judge away), I definitely think it’s both. This isn’t just some gross out, perverted, lame-o, insert fomulaic jokes here kind of movie. Yes, there are some pretty “wild” (what word can you really put there?) scenes, but there’s also a good story as well. A realistic story even. Or at least more realistic than a lot of the crazy stuff out there. The movie has heart.
But just as much as the movie has a hilarious and edgy heart, it’s also a beautiful thing to just be sitting in a theater with a room full of laughing people. And this isn’t just normal self-conscious laughter, this is I don’t care who’s around I am laughing outloud and for real. So much laughter. There was one guy that was laughing so hard and loud that several of us just died laughing listening to him. Seriously, several of us began to laugh so hard we were crying just because it was like this domino affect just listening and joining in on laughter.
There is something special about laughter. Smiles. Seeing them. Hearing it. Sharing it. It can lighten a moment even in the most darkest and trying of times. It can bring people together that don’t even have words to speak to one another. It can break the ice on an awkward date. It can be that camraderie in a scary situation, a nervous interview, or that spontaneous a ha moment when it all comes together. It can even be the laughter that springs forth out of you randomly when someone is calling you on your stuff or providing a truthful but real revelation on what’s up in your life.
Beyond just turning that frown upside down, laughter is a uniter. Not laughter or happiness at the misfortune of others – well maybe some of that in movies and America’s Funniest Home Videos. What’s special is that contagious, joyous, surprise of laughter.
There are a multitude of youtube videos on laughter – from laughter yoga with the lovely with the hilarious John Cleese to all sorts of songs and chains and challenges. Check them out. Do what it takes to laugh. Everybody needs those moments of abs hurting laughter in the midst of our sometimes crazy world. If Bridesmaids is not your thing try some knock knock jokes or going to a comedy club or even laughing at the hilarity that can sometimes be our lives. Laugh long and laugh loud and don’t care a bit about who’s watching or listening. (Even if that means snorting or guffawing in the most endearing of manners.)
I like that in the movie, Megan tells Annie that she’s got to grab on to her life. Instead of just letting it knock her down, she’s got to have some fight left in her to claim it as her own. I know, I know. I shouldn’t try to wax eloquent about the movie at this point. However, if you have seen the movie, hopefully this song will make you laugh. If you haven’t seen it. Very cheesily, hold on to one more day. Laugh. Outloud. Break free from whatever chains. Know that there is someOne who can break the chains and wants to laugh with us every day, even in the midst of the muck and the mire.