Personal Musings

There’s always a reason to laugh

Let laughter soften the blow

If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don’t bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he’s a good man.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Even the worst of situations allows for laughter. In less than a month’s time after being diagnosed with leukemia, my dad dropped about sixty pounds.

“Can you punch a few new holes in my belt,” he asked me. “I can’t keep my pants up.”

He was staying with me at the time during a furlough from UVA Hospital where he had been seeking treatment. During this period, a couple of his work buddies came up to visit him at my apartment on Pantops. They were taken aback by how much weight he had lost in such a short time.

Noticing their expressions, he said laughing,

I’m back to my old boxing weight from when I was in the army. Gotta find somebody’s ass to whip now.

The next morning he stood before the bathroom mirror in my apartment. His mustache, which I’d never seen him without my entire life, had disappeared almost completely due to the cancer. He had asked me to help him shave.

My dad smiled back at himself in the mirror and said,

I had no idea my teeth were so g— damn big.

Humor, perhaps more than anything, is our greatest coping mechanism. It softens the blow. And it tells much about a person.

“I know not all that may be coming,” Herman Melville once said, “but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.

Comments off. Instead, I encourage you to share this link and start a conversation on social media about a difficult time you found laughter or to write me instead.