Humor...The Aftermath!

Recently, author Martha Beck posted a video entitled, “Laughing All the Way: How Dark Humor Helps Us Survive” – a real gift to all of us who have experienced hard times, particularly during this holiday season. The video brought back a memory about our AC/heating-unit disaster that nearly made me lose my mind. A few summers ago, our cooling/heating-unit started to die out. Our AC guy suggested that we replace an expensive part but that our unit was so old that we would only be buying ourselves a few months. He suggested we buy a new unit on our terms before it broke down. We coordinated the removal of the old AC unit from the roof with a crane company. The new one was scheduled to arrive the next day, and the crane would come back to lift it to the roof--it was a bigger production than I imagined! When everything was disconnected, the roof under the unit showed significant damage so we needed to replace that part of our roof before the new AC unit could be brought in. If you’ve ever tried to book a roofing company, you know what a huge waiting list they have! Our air-conditioning-unit was gone, and a catastrophic heatwave hit our area and started a fire in the hills of our town. We didn't have a choice but to keep our windows open at all times because it was an oven in our house. We had fans running in every room and hot, smoky air circulating was a bit better than still hot air.

We were all miserable with all the heat and smoke in the air. Finally, we got a roofing company to come out after a week without air conditioning and the fire raging in our town! My kids weren’t speaking to us by then—we were all sleep deprived and dehydrated. The new roof was installed in two days! The company pulled members from other projects and got the job done. Our AC unit was days away from being delivered and installed, but the temperature kept rising past 100. The night before the installation, while sitting in the grassy area of our backyard, barefoot, in the dark trying to cool off, I started to choke on an ice cube, and joked, "This is just great! I'll choke and die before I could feel cool air again!" I began to cry with laughter! It was silly to be laughing, but I’d finally found the humor in the worst timing ever to replace our AC unit.

Martha Beck said in the video, "If you’re going through a hard time now. Don’t just think of it as being rough. It is rough. I grant you that. But somewhere in the back of your mind tuck away the information that the harder the experience is now, the richer it will become as mine for comedy. In fact, comedians say that comedy is pain plus time. Wait, and the humor will grow! Just remember that by choosing to nurture black jokes, dark humor in the worst of times, you are actually removing yourself as a victim by putting your brain in a state of creator.”

Martha continued, "The one single thing you can do to keep yourself out of the victim situation is to become creative. If you’re having a rotten holiday cause, this can be an awful time for a lot of us. Start to write things down so that later, even the darkest moments can become some of the funniest things that ever happened to you. I want to quote Reinhold Niebuhr who said, [Laughter is the beginning of prayer,] and I believe that’s true. When we join with creation, and making a joke in a tough time is an act of creation, we reconnect with the creator that is the essence of all of us, and we reconnect ourselves with compassion, with deathlessness, with love, and that’s what we’re here to do."

That night, after almost choking on my ice cube, I began to pray for our AC unit to be delivered on time and without any problems, and added my appreciation for being so close to having the problem solved. Days later, the fire was contained in our town, and there was complete relief in our cool air, flowing through our home.

In hope and humor...I am fearless.



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