Yesterday, I was talking with a colleague, and I told her that she made my list of the "10 Things that Make Me Laugh." She said, "I'm glad, but I do it for myself. That is how I get through things."
Laughter is one of the most precious tools in the fight against bitterness. When I was little, my family went to Canada with another family. Over the 10-hour car ride, almost everything that could go wrong did, including getting lost, getting a flat tire, getting stuck in the mud and, when we tried to get out of the mud, getting leaches on us. Mud-splattered, leach-covered, every member of that family laughed their heads off. I think about that a lot when I accidentally book a rental car 25 miles from the airport, or when a student tells me my favorite author looks like a "tool" in his author's photo, or when I realize I have 10 hours of grading to do in 2 hours of "free" time. Laughing at myself, or at a situation that could make me yell or cry in frustration, makes me remember that I'm not so important, and neither I, nor my students, will remember that it took a few extra days to get their essays back.
Laughter is also the glue of all of my strongest relationships. I have been friends with Sara for over 15 years, and I have laughed with her at everything from her temper tantrum trudging up a hill in France in 100 degree heat to that fact that my college beauty regime consisted of combing a little bit of my long hair with a free comb that I got at a funeral. There are so many times when something happens, and I can't wait to tell it to Sara to make her laugh.
Mark Twain wrote, "the human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." In my life, I have experienced times where joys seem few and anxiety or sadness threatens to overwhelm me. In those times, and really every time, I'm glad I have laughter by my side.