Naked, laughing. Naked laughing?
“Oh, sweetie! Thank you for singing me my birthday song! I have to put the phone down for just 20 seconds because I am stark naked and need to close the door before someone walks in on me!”
That is how my phone call with my grandmother began on her birthday.
What you need to know is that my grandparents have their own bathrooms. Not once in their 60+ years of marriage have they shared one. Also, they have never walked in on one another in the buff. No small feat, in my mind. For them, it seems as natural as having separate toothbrushes. You just don’t share certain things.
Today, while I was patiently waiting for my grandmom to come back to the phone, I heard the inevitable happen. Hootin’ and hollerin’ and laughter filled up my ear as it was pressed to my phone. My grandpop, her husband, walked in on her naked beauty!
Oh. My. Goodness. Did they laugh! My grandmom is usually a very positive, happy gal so laughter is a common musical sound to hear from her. Today, her laugh was a symphony. My grandpop needs a little more coercing to omit an authentic laugh. Usually, he finds his own jokes, jibes, and teases quite pleasing. But today, his laugh was the tear-causing, loss of breath, hiccup kind of caught-by-comical-surprise belly laugh. I could hear how big his smile was and how squinty his eyes had to be to accommodate for it.
This short phone call experience seemed to be the start of 2 whole weeks filled with laugh-inducing company and situations. In one bout of laughing-so-hard-no-sound-comes-out, it occurred to me that allowing every opportunity to be one that has the potential to create laughter is extremely necessary to living a good, healthy life.
There is something very approachable about a person who is quick to find things funny. Not funny in an ‘uncool’ way, or an ostracizing way. Funny means seeing the light-heartedness in work and effort. It means letting go of the need to be perfect, macho, or proper. I know that when I feel like I need to get something right…and then I fail to deliver that desired outcome…I have a difficult time laughing about it and moving on. My reaction to my motivations is the influential behavior at stake. And reactions are contagious. Over and over again, I can be willing to try something new, to listen to someone new, and find myself laughing because the discoveries are surprising and physically comical. On the other hand, I can have the expectation that people are watching and judging my attempts at trying something new or interacting with someone….and this is when laughter becomes a second language that I have to make a conscious effort to use (and to make it sound “right” in each context).
Liz and Yannick Vanhove came to our studio to teach and dance with us as part of their first tour to the United States. They are professional laughers. They taught with such childlike wonder and amazement that was communicated with laughter. One of the reasons I think this happens with these two is because they are not burdened with the fear of not knowing. Knowing something new is too exciting for them! Therefore, little time is spent on worrying about what they don’t know. And after a whole day of laughing while learning new things, I felt like a good dancer. It is really good to feel like that at the end of a day of workshops.
For me, authentic, genuine, big laughter has a huge purpose in my life. It doesn’t matter to me if my laugh sounds like a chicken squawk, if it’s too loud, if it’s cute like ringing bells, or if it can’t be stopped.
I just hope it’s contagious!
(Thanks to Liz and Yannick for inviting us to laugh with you!)