Apparently, I Never Laugh

No, that’s it. That’s the entire blog post.

I don’t laugh.

This was brought to my attention, intervention-style, by my family. We were all sitting around and discussing something humorous, I think. It was hard to tell. And my mother mentioned that my father, in particular, tries especially hard to make me laugh. I, ironically, laughed at this. I said, “What do you mean? I laugh. I laugh all the time.” To which, my sister chimed in. She told me that I really didn’t and that she works hard to make me laugh, too. I was a bit dumbfounded. Here everyone, had kept this weird secret from me. This weird, laughable secret. Was I the joker, so serious? It was impossible. Wasn’t it?

So, I had a bit of an out of body experience. That is, I observed myself in daily life. I tried to track how I reacted to most things. I tried to note what happened after anyone said just about anything to me. And besides chuckling to myself when I unironically listened to “Milkshake” in a quiet office, the family was absolutely correct. I don’t laugh. And when I do laugh, it’s mostly at the expense of other people. Which is downright terrible.

What I have also found is that I try really hard to make other people laugh. I try to get people going by making fun of myself or poking fun at something else. Which I guess is okay. But it doesn’t make up for all of the time I have spent not laughing.

In the end, there’s two lessons here. First, try listening to yourself for a week. If you find you’re on a laugh diet, try to lighten up. I’m not saying to force it. There is absolutely nothing more awkward or annoying than a forced laugh. Just try to be a little more relaxed. Try to see the lighter side of it all. Then, if you find yourself trying to be the clown or the comic in every situation, try to let someone else have the spotlight. As any comedian can tell you, it is difficult to keep being the life of the party when you are “on” all of the time.

So, have I started laughing more? I don’t think so. Not yet. But I’m trying. And I’m thankful for my family. For however hard they try to make me laugh, I’ve never met anyone with a higher success rate than them. After all, laughter can be the best medicine, if you let it be.

Everyone Should Drown Once in Their Life

It isn’t a vivid memory, but I do remember the time I was caught in a rip tide.

Your guess is as good as mine as how old I was. But I can remember following my sister out into the waves. I was loath to go in, I’ve always hated the ocean even before this incident, but I would pretty much follow my sister anywhere (a trait that many younger sisters share). I can recall trying to jump the waves (and I can remember being short enough that this was a difficult task). I know that my sister was not swimming straight out, but parallel to the shore. She was getting more and more distant, and I was trying to catch up. But I couldn’t. It wasn’t more noteworthy than that. I simply wanted to move, but I couldn’t. And the next thing I knew a lifeguard was swimming out to me, catching me around the waist and striding toward the shore. How was I supposed to know that if I had kept going I would have had to stop? I think, when I got to shore, I started to cry because the reality of the situation hit my young brain. But it was very, very possible that I was just being dramatic and looking for sympathy over my unfortunate experience.

Although I was very far from drowning, I was closer to it than I had ever been before or after. For the rest of my life, I have stayed away from the ocean, not from any real fear, just from a general dislike (and it has always been mutual. No, the ocean does not like me. It knows.). But for everything I find horrifying about the ocean, (that terrible moment when something brushes your leg) I’m truly not afraid of rip tides anymore. I’ve been there, brushed that experience like a jellyfish washing past in those same waves with the same amount of pain and distress, and moved on.

Which is why everyone needs to have a drowning, or near-drowning, experience in their lives. And drowning is important; no near-death experience will do. When you are struggling against water, there is something so very debilitating. Perhaps it is the keen knowledge that you are absolutely out of your element, and there is nothing you can do. Someone has to come and help you. Of course, I was too young to cling to my mortality for every moment after, but the memory remains with me still.

Now, don’t go throwing yourself into bodies of water just to have a stronger constitution and better outlook on life. This concept also applies metaphorically. If you have never really “drowned,” if you’ve never been up the creek without a paddle, how do you know what you are made of? How do you know whether you will sink or swim? How do you know you can’t when you’ve never tried? We should all embrace the chaos as much as possible for this exact reason.

In the end, I’ll be alright if I am never at the mercy of the ocean again. But if I am, the ocean should know I’m a bit bigger and a little harder to pick on. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Almost. More like, what doesn’t kill you makes you a stronger swimmer.

Leaving a Legacy

No one wants to leave anything behind.

We all want to drink the dregs, spend our money, and peace out in a painless way.

But I think there is a real pressure to make our mark in a tangible fashion in today’s world. To be someone who can directly point to something and say, “That, right there, is my contribution to the world. Bask in it and enjoy it.”

But how many of us really get to do that? How many of us get to leave a legacy that we can be truly proud of?

Actually, we all do.

I think the world needs reminding that no matter how small, we all make ripples in the stream. Whether you write a book, record an album, make a birdhouse, or inspire the people around you by being uniquely you, we all leave our lives at the end of our time a little bit better.

And, friendly note, you don’t have to do any of the above. You don’t have to write a book or an album or sell out a stadium or make millions of dollars just to make sure that you will be remembered. If you just live your life, enjoying the company of others and being positive wherever you go, you can inspire anyone and everyone around you.

Or you can be a crotchety old witch who yells at little kids and refuses to let anyone drive her anywhere. In either situation, you’ll be remembered by those around you. After all, who could ever forget how nice (or mean) you were? People recall the extremes of a person, but more than that, people recall the impression you made on them.

The point is you don’t have to put so much pressure on yourself. (Do not confuse this with “stop chasing after that dream of yours.” You should definitely keep dreaming.) Just accept that you are going to leave your story with someone as the person you are. And once you understand that, you are free to be the person you want to be.

Blood Pressure on an Elevator

So, after two weeks of dieting, I have another food allergy!

You wouldn’t think that I would be excited about that. But it can really give you a new outlook on life when you realize how much stuff you can’t eat anymore. It makes you appreciate the stuff you can eat. (Okay, when I’m not poring over nutrition labels, praying I don’t see the one ingredient I am looking for and weeping over empty pizza boxes without being allowed to taste their contents.) Then, I am pretty excited about my new food allergy.

What I’m upset about is my blood pressure is still high. Like really high. And this can come from a variety of influences, obviously. Stress being one of the largest. So, I’ve been trying yoga, sniffing lavender, and counting breaths, but to no avail. It is still rather elevated, which is making me feel rather down in the dumps. I can’t seem to find a way to calm down enough to see some low numbers. Even talking about it now, I’m stressed.

And don’t get me started on that blood pressure cuff. Really, who invented that? Oh, I know, let’s make people really uncomfortable so that we can tell if they have a healthy stress level! I can’t stand that tightening feeling, or the sudden rush of all my blood through my arm so loud I can almost hear it as well as feel it. The act of taking my blood pressure makes me stressed out, which, as you might have guessed, does not give me good results.

So, why does this matter to you (other than documenting a case of some severe TMI from me)? It’s because there is a really important lesson wrapped up in this, coursing through the veins of the matter, if you will.

It’s the simple idea that if you over think something, it becomes harder to attain. I mean, have you ever tried to “calm yourself” down while sitting in that doctor’s office? What about trying to “slow your heart rate” when the nurse is squeezing that little torture device that makes the cuff constrict on your arm? It’s really hard, isn’t it? Actually, it’s damn near impossible. There is a reason for that (and maybe even an app for it, too).

It’s because you are focusing on what makes you stressed, when you should be letting everything go. Simple, right? So, you just have to think about something else…except that’s hard, too. Really, it’s the moment that we ask “What? Me? Angry?” when there is a vein throbbing in our forehead. These are the moments we all need to pay attention to more. The times when our emotions don’t really match our thoughts.

In the end, we need to stop forcing it (whatever “it” may be in your life) and start letting some things come naturally.

So, if you want to relax, if you want to calm down, if you want to be at peace, then put down the lavender and listen. But don’t listen to me. Listen to yourself and your own needs. After all, unlike your age, your blood pressure isn’t just a number. It’s a greater expression of the number of breaths you may be able to take in this life, so every single. one. counts.