Why So Serious?

Jacob - Wilton, Connecticut
Entered on October 23, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in the power of laughter. Most people say that I laugh more than the average person; this is true. When I was in elementary school, my A.D.D. was so out of control that I would basically laugh at anything anyone said. One time I laughed so hard I had milk come out of my nose during snack time in the classroom. That made everyone else laugh. Today the medications I take stabilize my impulsivity, but I still love to laugh and enjoy making others do the same.

I believe that laughing is part of the ups and downs of the life-cycle. It seems that people will laugh until they cry and cry until they laugh. Laughter is an invitation to excuse oneself from suffering and to celebrate life to the fullest. I have heard many strange laughs during my lifetime: there’s been quacking, snorting, squealing and howling. I have seen a group of friends roll on the floor in laughter not able to control them. And in all these cases, I find myself wanting to join them there on the hallway floor.

One characteristic that every member of my family shares is that we all love to laugh. We can find laughter in comedies, movies, television shows, plays, books and even in awkward silences; sometimes we even find laughter in situations that are not funny at all. For example, one afternoon, my mom dropped her contact lens as she was taking it out of her eye. We looked all over for it: on her face, in her clothes, inside her shoes and on the floor. We even swept the entire room and carefully looked through the broom and in the dust bunnies. At 6:00 in the evening, while we were working on vocabulary words, her foot began to itch. And there it was, stuck to the bottom of her little toe. This was not funny because it had caused her an afternoon of stress and frustration. All we could do, however, was look at each other and burst out laughing.

In the summer of 2007, just before my freshman year, I went away to camp. I left as one person and came back as another: I found the funny man inside myself. He’d been hiding there for quite some time, unable to show himself because middle school had put me in such a funk. During the beginning of this awkward stage known as adolescence, I felt that I was not smart, not mature enough to handle life, not old enough and not accepted enough. When I returned home from camp, people saw me differently. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin and could find the humor in my own life. Today, I am more comfortable laughing at myself than I used to be. Everyone noticed the change and responded with laughter and good will. I hit my freshman year off with a bang, literally, get it? I always seemed to be telling jokes and making people around me laugh. Some call it a charm; some call it a gift, but really it’s just happiness.

There is one quote from the film, The Dark Knight, which sums up my belief in the power of laughter. In the last line of the joker’s monologue, during which he tells the story of the scars on his face, he looks straight at the man to whom he is speaking and asks, “Why so serious?” This idea struck me as brilliant; I use it almost on a daily basis. For instance, if kids are getting really intense about a football game or something that’s not so important in the grand scheme of things, I will look at them and ask, “Why so serious about such a silly game?” The world doesn’t need people to be so tense about every little thing. We don’t always need to take life so seriously.

Throughout history, many of the most famous teachers and philosophers believed that happiness and laughter were key. Buddha, one of the greatest of them all, said “When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” Laughter is transformative; it is a perfect antidote for an imperfect world-this I believe.