This I Believe

Sarah - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on November 20, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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The Importance of Humor

I’m running as hard as I can through the last 800 meters of the cross country race, my aching muscles screaming out of pain, my dry throat pleading for a break, my positive attitude wavering. I realize that I am now so far off from a respectable time that there’s no hope of redeeming myself in this race. Frustration takes hold of me, a frustration I am not unfamiliar with, as I am often more than willing to write myself off as worthless if I get anything lower than an A in school, anything slower than my personal record in running, or anything less than perfect in general. The bitter-cold wind chills the sweat that continues to leak out of every pore in my body, and my mental agony persists. All of a sudden, I see three of my injured teammates flailing and cheering up ahead. I had heard that they were going to paint their bodies for this race, so I’m expecting the typical cutesy, teenage-girl maneuver of painting letters on their stomachs. But when I get closer, they do something unexpected and potentially rude and obscene, except that they have the courtesy to keep the audience limited to just me and a few other runners: they turn around and drop their pants, revealing “GO SCXC” (State College Cross Country) painted across their hind-quarters. Despite the fact that I have a race to finish, I laugh until I can’t breathe. The sheer absurdity of exposing so much skin in the frigid temperatures, combined with the either admirable or disgusting sacrifice of dignity for a good laugh is inspiring. Moreover, the reminder that it is crucial to not take oneself too seriously is both needed and welcomed.

While not everyone will find themselves plodding down a cross country course in need of a quirky teammate to provide an escape from stress via humor, most people will find that it is crucial to have friends or siblings or anyone else with a good sense of humor to discover and reveal the irony in any situation, use wit to gently knock people off their high horses, and allow their over-all good natured attitudes to lighten up every day. I once saw a class-room poster that proclaimed, “Sometimes the only sense you can make out of life is a sense of humor.” For some reason, this quote stuck with me, and now, as a high-school student who spends much of her day with high strung individuals, I often think back to this classroom poster philosophy as I watch the stressed out students and the burning out adults. I keep thinking that it’s so sad, and that all they need is a lame pun or a classic whoopie-cushion joke or a spontaneous teammate with a painted rear to help them get a better perspective of life. It’s very difficult to take serious people seriously, which is why I take humorous story-telling as my solemn duty, and why I am gravely sincere in my gratitude towards those missionaries who shed a fresh new light on the world, providing comic relief to those individuals who need it the most.

It’s almost ironic, isn’t it?