Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
April 25, 2005
Laugh and see the lighter side of life
Light One Candle
"Laughter is the closest distance between two people."
I can't help but agree with the late, great comedian and musician Victor Borge about the power of laughter. In a world with six billion people, most of whom seem to be travelling on the same highway at the same time we are, you would think we'd be pretty close already.
But there is a vast difference between proximity and genuine closeness. And humour is one of the most effective ways of bridging the gap between the two.
I was reminded of the power of laughter in January when Johnny Carson died. He had a rare gift for making people laugh with a story, a joke, or just a look. But I think that back in the '70s and '80s, when Carson was the king of late night television, he actually gave us a second gift - the chance to connect with other people.
hese days, there are so many programs on broadcast and cable television, to say nothing of other forms of communication like the Internet, that we have a huge number of entertainment options. When Johnny Carson hosted the Tonight Show, our choices were fewer and, almost always, we chose Carson.
hat's why the next day at the water cooler or the coffee shop, it was natural for someone to ask, "Did you catch Johnny's monologue last night?" Wasn't that joke about (fill in the blank) hilarious?" And people would chat a bit about a shared memory of laughter - and laugh again. That's no small feat in any generation, when world events are serious if not outright dangerous, and personal obligations and problems sometimes threaten to overwhelm us. A sense of humour can be our saving grace.
One staff member here at The Christophers showed me an article from Family Circle magazine that pointed out just how much laughter can save us. It quoted Steve Rizzo, the author of Becoming a Humour Being, who recalled a TV interview that took place shortly after the horror of Sept. 11, 2001. A firefighter who had been injured in the collapse of the World Trade Centre, suffered a broken leg. A reporter asked, "How is it that you've come out of this alive?"
Without skipping a beat, the man answered, "Look lady, I'm from New York and I'm a firefighter; that's all you need to know."
Rizzo said, "Everyone laughed and though the laughter was only a couple of seconds, sometimes that's all you need to catch your second wind. Laughter gives you that couple of seconds. You're sending a message to your brain, and the message is: If you can still laugh even a little amid the pain and chaos, you're going to be OK.
If there's anything we learned from 9/11, it's how precious life really is. We have to send a message that our spirit won't die. One important thing that unites us is our ability to laugh."
So here we are in April (which has been declared National Humour Month) and I suggest that we all make a resolution: to laugh more and to encourage others to do the same.
We don't need to be comedians to spread cheer. We just need to be willing to lighten our own burdens and those of others by seeing the lighter side of life.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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