The Importance of Laughter
When I was in boarding school we were required to attend Sunday church service. The school would gather in the auditorium and the students would be well dressed and mannered. One Sunday morning before service started a face appeared over my shoulder and said to me. “Did you ever notice how hard it is to keep from laughing when you’re not supposed to?” I didn’t want to get in any trouble so I said to this person “Just to go away, weirdo.”
The service was well underway and I began to think about what this weirdo had said to me. A little sneer started to form at the side of my face. That sneer turned into a smirk, then into a little smile. It just blew up from there. I was laughing so hard that my body shook, and spit foamed in the corners of my mouth. Like a View-Master slide show funny memories of my life appeared.
Memories like when I was in summer camp and the camp director was making his morning announcements. My friend and I were trying to make each other laugh. He thought he could keep from laughing by holding his breath. He was straining and his face turned beet red and two little boogies shot out of his nose and stuck to my knee. It wasn’t funny then. It is now.
Another moment was when a buddy and I were playing in my back yard and for some reason he picked something up and looked at it. He then broke it in two and only then did he realize what it was. He took a sniff and promptly threw it down on the ground. I had two cats and this was their back yard too. This and many other memories went through my head while trying sit still and remain quiet.
A forceful tap thumped on my shoulder. It was the headmaster motioning me to get up and remove myself. As I was being escorted out with his hand around my neck I could only imagine what was going through people’s minds. This made me laugh even harder. By the looks on some faces I could tell they thought I was crying. Some people were laughing at me and I thought “Good for you!”
I got in a lot of trouble that morning and was even put on student home detention. I was forced to work extra hours that week. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I still don’t know who whispered in my ear that day, but I do know he taught me that laughter matters. He helped me realize the essential importance of laughter. Laughter cleanses the kinds of dirt that diminishes the human-spirit. We need laughter in our lives. This, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.