Years ago one of my sons said to me, “What happened to you Mom, you used to be the silliest person I knew.” Through bruised feelings I answered, “Life happened” – an accurate description of how the years can alter even the sunniest personality. Today I got to thinking about the elusiveness of silly glee and the power it can bring.
As I near age 78, I can’t remember being all that silly in my youth. I do know that I was outgoing and joyful – loved family, school and community. There was a writerly bent (columnist for the local newspaper) and I liked the spotlight (creating humorous “Not Necessarily the News” skits for Civics class, for example) but I was also a serious straight-A student.
I do recall as a young mother that I adored my sons and wanted life to be rich and full and yes, funny – because children needed to laugh. I would get down on the floor to play with them, took them exploring in every nook and cranny we could access, and even involved them in some of my theatrical endeavors. But I also remember being weighted with responsibilities when I took on a later role as a single mom.
I have always liked a good laugh but I am discerning about my theater, movies, books, comedians. I once loved to dance with gay abandon, but old age (and a badly broken ankle) stifled that outlet. Good friends and good wine were a delight but I moved cross-country. Travel and discovery made me smile but caring for an elderly parent narrowed those opportunities for several years. In general, life’s losses saddened me – a husband years back, a son and a father in the past year.
And yet, I am far away from growing dour, and this idea of silliness – the power of laughter and joy – calls out my name. It will be a challenge, given a number of limitations (our national woes, my age and health issues, my general critical-analytical bent). Heck, I had trouble recently inserting whimsy into my home office decorations — my Wacky Wall discussed in a prior blog is a little offbeat but hardly a riot.
But I do know that joy and laughter can fill us up like nothing else; keep us well and alive and happy, even in the toughest times. So I have slowly begun a quest for levity — a clever joke, a small caprice, something of unusual beauty perhaps. At least one diversion a week; daily would be a wealth of riches. So to all my friends please note that I’m in the market for some serious silliness!!
— Jonnie Martin