Our lives need laughter

I like to listen to people laugh.
I especially like those laughs where the whole body joins in—the shoulders shake, the eyebrows dart up and down, and hands clutch the tummy.
That’s a real laugh. And then there are the wheezing varieties, the “hiccup,” the snorts, and hen cackles.
I would like to do a documentary on laughing, back through the ages, perhaps revealing some genetic or geographical link. I’m relieved I didn’t grow up in the era when women were only allowed a giggle that leaked out from behind a handkerchief.
I’d have gone mad.
Yes, I like to laugh. I like the cleansing affect of a good guffaw; the kind that takes on a life of its own and eventually you can’t remember what you were laughing about.
My eldest daughter, Aimee, and I are prone to such outbursts when we are together. We end up pointing at each other, bent over at the waist, trying desperately to grab a breath and we laugh until tears pour down our face.
Finally, we stand and exhale rather dramatically, rub our tummies, and say in unison, “Oh, that was a good one.”
No one finds us funnier than we do. We’ve spent entire telephone conversations just laughing, and Aimee has the most delicious laugh and an amazing heart to go with it.
Laughing is contagious (I think it is more infectious than chicken pox). Just try frowning when you’re in the vicinity of a good laugh. It’s not possible.
Sometime while sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room or the line at the MTO, I’d like to just start laughing and see what happens. They may try to cart me off to some kind of an institution, but I picture everyone else in the room joining in eventually, creating a bit of bedlam—a spontaneous eruption of joy.
I’m not all that crazy about this aging thing. I try to keep positive; shrug off the symptoms with a chuckle. Meanwhile, I feel like someone snuck up behind me and pick-pocketed me, but instead of taking my money, they took my memory and my internal thermostat and my joints that didn’t use to hurt.
A chuckle isn’t cutting it; I need an all-out guffaw, a wiggle-the-china kind of laugh.
When I wake up at 3:30 a.m., as though some alarm just when off in my head, I need to sit up and howl with glee. The urge to throw my dresser through the window is not helping me ease back to sleep, but I think a good laugh could.
The study of laughter and how it affects our body has an actual name? Gelotology. Surely, though, they could have come up with a funnier title, like giggleosophy or chuckleology.
There has been documentation of people dying from laughter, as far back as the third century BC. My favourite is a Scottish aristocrat in 1660 who died from laughter when he heard Charles II would sit on the throne.
Our election results have been laughable at least once or twice, though I prefer to think that death occurs while laughing rather than because of.
Laughter therapy has been known to lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, and increase the muscles’ ability to flex. One arthritis sufferer, Norman Cousins, used laughter, induced from watching “Candid Camera” and Marx Brothers films, to create two hours of pain relief without using medication—and he documented this in a book.
Currently our techno-obligated culture resorts to an LOL inserted in our e-mails and texts. Who are we kidding, these LOLs are not laughs at all but imposters—frauds riding the coat-tails of a genuine snicker.
I’ve just looked outside and it is snowing again. I shall laugh. My credit card bill just came in the mail. I will laugh now and open it later.
I soon will be tallying up my earnings and expenses for last year—and that is most definitely laughter worthy. In fact, I feel a giant-sized cachinnation coming on.
Now there’s a word.
wendistewart@live.ca

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