Why Do We Take Life So Seriously?
by Irwin Lengel
How many of you remember Mel Brooks? One of his favorite sayings was:
Life literally abounds in comedy if you just look around you.
Some time back I wrote an article pertaining to life and the seriousness with which we allow ourselves to be regarding the everyday happenings of life.
Take myself for instance, all my life I have chosen to be what might be classified as a “serious” person. But then, in 2004, after learning that I not only had Prostate cancer, I learned that I also had several blocked arteries and needed By-pass surgery. During the recuperation period from both operations spaced three months apart (heart in June, Prostate in October) and during a Hurricane – Hurricane Charley to be precise (August 2004) - my gall bladder decided it no longer wanted to be a part of my body and so out it came, making that three major surgeries in less than six months.
To say that the balance of 2004 and the following year of recuperation was okay would be a misnomer. Why, because when it came to recuperation from the prostate surgery, well, that is another story and let’s just say it was not the best time of my life.
After coming to grips with the situation and my thanks go out to the many people that helped me during that time period, I decided then and there that I would spend the balance of my life trying hard to work something comical into my daily activities whether working with other people, socializing, or just trying my best to get through the day. I am sure many of you reading this know of the days I am talking about.
Fast forward to 2020 and what we have endured since March. A bit much to take in, isn’t it? Stop and think about it briefly. Many of you reading this at one time or another, and in some instances, more times than expected or even wanted, experienced similar hard times. Also, if you are like me, you will agree that it takes hard work and concentration not to be so serious in order that the hard times do not bring us down.
So, with that long-winded introduction to this article, here is my question: “What can deter us from being so serious?” My conclusion - Getting more laughter in our life! Fact of the matter is that we – “yes – you and I” – are the only ones that can make that happen.
Allow me to share with you two words my wife does not like hearing me utter. My wife hates to hear me use the words “I can’t.” She believes the words “I can’t” should be eliminated from both the dictionary and our vocabulary. When you stop and think about it, one of the biggest deterrents to thinking funny things or attempting to bring more laughter in our lives is saying those words and it is even worse if we add the word ‘because’: …… “I can’t because…..”
Ever stop and think where we would be if all people would stop doing things because of the words: I can’t because.” Now, having said that – allow me to direct your thinking towards the book known as “The “Guinness Book of World Records.” My educated guess is that the individuals in this book probably discarded the words “I can’t because….” a long time ago because these individuals did not stop doing what probably seemed impossible to do at the time. The words “I can’t” and “because” probably never enter their mind.
An example I like to use talks about Jim Bolin a 61- year-old businessperson who didn’t want to see his hometown of Casey, Illinois go by the wayside after the recession (some of you might still remember the recession). In his attempt to do something big and record-breaking, to put his town back on the map, he ended up doing not one, but eight record-breaking events that are now in the Guinness Book of World Records. Check out the following Guinness World Records site:
Big Things in a Small Town: US businessman gets Casey into record...
We do not need to look further than our own lives and world as we know it to find laughter of one sort or another. One of the stories I used to enjoy when I was a kid growing up, had to do with the response given by Willie Sutton, a famous bank robber, when standing in front of the judge after being caught robbing a bank. The judge asked: “Why do you rob banks?” Sutton answered: “I rob banks because that’s where the money is.” When you stop and think about it, our lives – every twenty-four hours of it provides us with enough humorous material that if we wanted to, we could capture enough of it on paper to do a ten or even a fifteen-minute stand-up comedy routine.
Being an individual that loves to read old quotes as well as various proverbs, allow me to share a favorite quote about laughter by Alan Alda who said: "When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other.”
Then there is the old French proverb that says: “The most completely lost of all days is the one on which we have not laughed.”
I am sure most of you will agree that most doctors today remind us older folk that we need to get a minimum of twenty minutes of Vitamin D or sunshine every day (more so now due to the pandemic). I agree with that but would also add that we need to get our daily minimum requirements of vitamin H (humor) each day as well.
If we stop and think about our lives today, I am sure you will agree that for the most part, our lives are filled with what one might refer to as absurdities. What do I mean? Think about it. Think of all the mistakes we sometimes make in a 24-hour period. When we get right down to it, these mistakes or adding some humor to this post, “bloopers, if you will” are also nothing other than an inevitable by-product of our being human.
The bottom line here is just this: We retirees and especially seniors should not be so serious all the time. At our age, we need to live a little and laugh a lot. It is good for your soul.
Until next week –
Stay safe and stay well!