person laughing

Is it Okay to Laugh?

by Davin Franklin-Hicks

How is your heart?
How is your sense of safety?
How are your relationships since last week?
How are your thoughts as you attempt to navigate?
Do something for me: take a deep breath.
Do it again.
One more time.
Ah, for the heck of it let’s just do it again.

I am listening to some music while I write today. I often need to be in quiet to write, but quiet does not seem to be going outside right now, can’t seem to find that quiet anywhere. Quiet is likely in a cabin somewhere doing some solid self-care so it can return and help us once again. Even quiet needs a rest.

I am listening to music in lieu of that quiet, leaning into the sounds of a person singing, making me feel less alone. There is an awesome song that I have turned to on the regular this year. It’s playing right now as I write.

It’s by Passenger and the song is “Whispers”. The part that gets me every time are these amazing lyrics:

“Well I spent my money
I lost my friends
I broke my mobile phone
3 am and I am drunk and I am dancing on my own
Taxi-cabs ain’t stopping, and I don’t know my way home,
Well it’s hard to find a reason, when all you have is doubts,
Hard to see inside yourself when you can’t see your way out,
Hard to find an answer when the question won’t come out,
Everyone’s filling me up with noise and I don’t know what they are talking about
You see all I need’s a whisper in a world that only shouts.”

So good. So very good.

I am not going to shout at you. You are safe from attacks if you read on. I am with you.

I want to encourage your heart and the most wonderful way I know to do this is in laughter. Here is a story that I hope makes you laugh. Your laughter is a prayer, an affirmation and a commitment to still live despite the pain. Way to go!

I am a pretty diligent, helpful worker in general. Always have had a strong sense of affirmation through doing a good job. When I was 18 years old and free from the albatross that was high school, I got a job at the old Park Mall theater. When I say old, I mean old! I swear I once sat in a seat that Socrates sat in before. It was run down and breaking and I so much loved it!

There was an incentive program called “Knock Your Socks Off Service” or KYSOS for those of us in the know. Yeah, acronyms. Alienating others since 10000 BC (see what I did there)? The incentive was simple. If you were caught going above and beyond you got a star pin. Three of those and you got a 25 cent raise. I wanted those star pins more than the raise. I am easy to motivate through trinkets and such.

I did all I could to get those star pins. I chased down a couple in the mall because they forgot a purse. I helped elderly men and women to their cars when they struggled. I carried things for people. I came in early and stayed late. Star, Star, Star, Star.

And here is where I may have gone too far.

There was a Toyota truck with a canopy that had left their lights on. My co-worker and I decided that we would KYSOS this situation. We went to the truck and checked to see if the doors were locked. They were locked to keep intruders out. It didn’t occur to me that I was the intruder in this moment. We walked around the back and the trailer was unlocked. I looked through and saw that window between the canopy and cab was open.

You know what’s about to happen, don’t you?

Yep. I got in the trailer.
Yep. I crawled to the open window.
Yep. I reached through said window.
Then… my coworker says “I think they’re coming”
Yep. I froze in panic.
Yep. I now saw this as breaking and entering.

I quickly laid down in the back of the truck and tried to figure out how to get out. The driver got in, turned it on, and started to drive. I was clearly going home with this guy. Hope he liked surprises. I heard my boss’s voice yelling my name. My co-worker was a tattle-tale. The truck stopped at a stop sign, still in the parking lot. I broke free and made a run for it. I ran right into the open door of the theater. I caught my breath and then looked around at my co-workers, four of them staring at me like I lost my mind. And then we laughed. We laughed hard and long. We cried from it. Through tears and fits of laughter, my boss says “You are so not getting a star.” I laugh hard still when I think of it.

Laughter is a prayer of joy for me. I seek it and it creates a better version of me every single time. The first Saturday Night Live (SNL for you people who are in the know) had an amazing opening the first time they had a show after 9/11. It was powerful. The cast stood with then Mayor Giuliani as he expressed the pain and a strong affirmation to those watching. The best part, though, was when Lorne Michaels asked, “Is it okay to be funny?” Giuliani responded “Why start now?”

Do you see what that was? We asked permission to live again. That’s important. That’s crucial. That’s vital. That’s healing.

Take a deep breath again.
One more.

You can’t stop yourself from breathing without some kind of force. It’s automatic. You can’t control it to make it quit. You can’t kill it with your will to simply make it stop. It would require action. Yet the thing that makes me believe in God, in Spirit, in the Great Mystery that is our beginning and endings is this: while you can’t just decide you don’t want to breathe anymore, you can decide to breathe deep. What a thing of beauty that is – – – you can opt in to more life with a simple act but you cannot opt out.

To put it in a different way, you can’t quit, but you can start over.
And to put it in yet another way, life and love wins. Every. Single. Time.
Life is undefeated. It keeps on coming. Look at you, breathing. Look at you loving. Look at you living. You are amazing.

I’m just a guy.

I am not an expert.  I am not a person in power.  I don’t have letters behind my name.
I don’t have any letters in front of my name. That being said, just in case you were waiting for someone to give you permission to live, accept my offering:

I think we should laugh.
I think we should laugh together.
I think we should laugh together until we cry.
I think we should cry.
I think we should cry out.
I think we should go out.
I think we should go outside.
I think we should side with love over hate.
I think we should love.

I think in terms of we… because you make me feel that I am not alone.

I hope I can do that for you, too.

In the meantime, keep breathing.