So you might as well have fun
This is my motto, but it vies with my Mother’s admonition to us,
“You will have fun whether you like it or not.”
She said this to tired, cranky children, and to mopey, angst ridden teens. So I heard it all my life. And whether we were complaining of aching feet at Six Flags, terrified to get in the water, or not sure about the appeal of a carnival ride, she was always right. Once we waded, jumped in, jumped on or overcame foot pain, we always had a blast.
Somewhere along the way I forgot her admonition. I became a young woman striving to make an impression in the business world, and that seemed very serious to me. Male clients made sexual and mysoginistic jokes. They challenged my authority. I was so happy to turn thirty, in hopes of being taken more seriously. Not that I was devoid of humor. I told one client who always told sexual jokes that, “You must not ever get any, since that’s all that’s all you think about.” His partner laughed, at least.
My business partner challenged me one day to be more fun. She claimed I was always serious. It wasn’t like we were in a field that deals with life and death. We owned an Advertising agency, and while we did pro bono work for some non-profits, we were largely shills for capitalism. Not really that serious. Plus, art and writing and producing and directing and creating and even sales are FUN. So, the next day, I entered her office in my four inch high heels and Vera Wang business attire, and laid down on top of her desk. I stayed in that supine position as we talked strategy for a client. It was a silly blast, and I never turned back.
It’s surprising that I lost my silliness for awhile. My family is known for their dark humor. We laugh at funerals. And not just at the Wake. We actually laugh during funerals. When my Dad loudly corrected the minister at his brother’s funeral after he mispronounced his name several times, we all cracked up. When my mother’s husband selected “If Ever I Should Leave You” to be played at her funeral, her daughters had forgotten that we always cry during Camelot. My sister, Elaine, leaned over as she and Debi and I were bawling and said, “I guess we didn’t quite think that through.” Tears were replaced with laughter and giggles.
My son inherited our humor and then some. Like most of us in the family, he suffers from cyclical depression. But you would never know. He does stand-up comedy and writes, directs and films comedic videos on YouTube as Moonlair360. He’s been a clown his whole life. We can count on one hand photos where he isn’t making a crazy face. When he was 12 and wanted to go to a party that “everybody is going to,” my sister asked the classic, “If everybody jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?” He answered, “If there was a party at the bottom.” You best believe that when he was an angsty teen, I used mother’s line on him. And guess what. He always had fun. Now with his Austin entourage, he brings the fun.
Having fun as time flies is more than humor. It is laughing, sometimes literally, in the face of fate. When, as passing time can bring, some of us have health issues, the best thing to do, besides getting as healthy as possible, is to make fun of ourselves. My friend, Paige Pauley, and I were so funny in the prep room before my surgery for a breast lump (which turned out to be benign) that nurses and anesthesiologists were bringing their colleagues into the room to be entertained by us. I went into surgery with the relaxation that only laughter brings. Neither of us remembers just what our hospital stand up (well, she was standing up) routine was, but the roomful of hospital staff will attest that it was hysterical. I tell her I had anesthesia after, but she has no excuse not to remember.
I joke and laugh with my current clients. I am now a psychotherapist, and don’t fit the stereotypical one who remains impassive and mainly reflects back the client’s thought and feelings. Humor can establish rapport, lighten the mood, and even allow the client to laugh at their own thoughts about a situation. When a client realizes something that is dire to them is actually a First World problem, they can more easily find solutions. I call one of them Eeyore whenever she bemoans everything, especially when things aren’t really that bad. I remind her to look for her tail. She laughs and sees the truth: that there is a lot in her life that is good.
Laughter may not cure depression, but it can shake you out of your stale perspectives and shift the paradigm. Beauty, love and gratitude can then slip into the crack that the shift in perspective and paradigm creates.