Tag Archive: laughter

Cure for Aging

We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing. George Bernard Shaw said that. Smart man.

I am reassured by this validation of play by such a brilliant mind. I define ‘playing’ as free-form spontaneous goofiness. But that’s just me…   Somewhere along the line I started using different voices, different personas to express myself at times…at first I kept this part of my personality guarded, afraid of what others might think. I think it was there from an early age but I shut it down in my quest to be invisible. Then as I got older, there seems to have been a sea-change where I let go of that fear…I loosened up, became more of the real me. Not that I pull a Sybil and spill over into one personality after the next you understand. That would be annoyingly over the top and lead to a mass exodus of my friends. But on occasion I let that side show to those who know me well. And yeah okay, maybe to some innocent bystanders in the supermarket line…

Years ago I did a brief stint as a stand-up comedian. Very brief. I had no idea how to handle hecklers. Then I found improv and took several courses at local theaters and clubs and LOVED it. I found the interplay and group dynamics intoxicating. Sometimes there would be a moment when I would totally connect with an improv partner and we would just build on each other’s creativity almost intuitively. Incredible. It felt like my inner switch was turned all the way on…

So there is something I love doing but have no idea how to continue with it. (I recently tried out at a local improv group — no go, though it was great fun.) One idea I am playing with is to go to a story slam.

Where does all that leave me now? Well, here I sit dressed as a panda waiting for trick or treaters. (Sitting down with a tail is less fun and more uncomfortable than I thought.)

Today was a rough day emotionally so playing a panda lightens my spirits…and makes the kids laugh.

I never want to stop playing.

Laughing Helps

Comedian Louis C.K. performs for servicemember...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, an afternoon storm, unpredicted and unexpected, moved in quickly with scary lightning strikes, dense rainfall, hail and high wind. In this house, when the wind gets strong, it makes an eerie moaning sound as it slams against the walls and windows. It is disquieting. I remember reading about the Dust Bowl years ago and being impressed by stories of how the endless sound of the wind drove some people out of their minds. I think I understand how that could happen after weeks on end of a constant assault on the senses.

However  I can also appreciate how the constant presence of a TV or IPod can be a comfort when too much alone time is getting you down, or a welcome distraction to ruminative thoughts clamoring for attention. Why is it by the way, that ruminative thoughts are always negative? At least mine are. How amazing it would be if those thoughts circling around my brain on an endless loop were actually supportive instead of derisive.

Going through a rough time recently, I started listening to audiobooks while falling asleep. (God knows what that did to my REM cycle.) I found it soothing. In particular I found Jon Kabat Zinn and his work on Mindfulness to be wonderfully comforting. I then started listening to Greg Behrendt‘s “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken.” Though targeted to a younger demographic and a little too cutesy at times, there was some solid sense in there that was truly helpful.

I moved on to Greg’s comedy albums, then Lewis Black‘s (a longtime favorite of mine) and then discovered Louis CK. What a find. I think he is brilliant, absolutely hysterical and eminently relatable. He makes me laugh and laugh hard at the vulnerabilities, insecurities and needs we all share. He also pushes the boundaries of my comfort zone. Make that, he bulldozes the boundaries of my comfort zone…which is good for me. Good to look at what makes me uncomfortable and why and to open up my thinking a bit. Complacency can be stifling to the soul. At the same time his stories about his children are really touching (and funny of course). His deep love and commitment to them just blazes through his material.

Listening to Louis CK’s albums and watching his funny, poignant and truly original TV show ‘Louie,’ led me somehow to Marc Maron. Another comedic find that I treasure. His WTF podcasts have become must-listen items for me. Raw, scorchingly so at times, the uber-vulnerable Maron seems to have little or no personal boundaries. Perhaps it is this quality that makes his interviews with top comedians so amazing. Maron connects with them on a deep level and gets them to open up and share to a remarkable degree.

It is interesting to me that these two have become such favorites though their  perspectives are seemingly so different from mine. (Yet there are also a lot of commonalities.) Perhaps I discovered their work just when I needed to, when my heart needed lifting and I wanted to let go of sadness and laugh.