Family Practice: So damn funnyWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently had a lone, simple sentence suddenly pop up on my Facebook chat: “Why is your life so damn funny?” Without thinking about it too long and taking myself by surprise, I promptly responded, “It’s actually not funny, I’m just funny.”
The question came from someone who is somewhere between an acquaintance and a friend and, consequently, had no idea that I’ve just been through seven or so of the least funny months of my life. I’m usually overly cautious to remain modest, but the reality of how unfunny my life has been as of late compelled me to finally give myself a little credit. I’ve had little to laugh about, but for some reason I decided to keep on trying.
The craptacular theme that has defined the better part of my 2012 can unfortunately best be summed up as loss. The loss of loved ones. The loss of friendships. The loss of whatever few ounces of innocence I had managed to carry with me into my adult years. Hasta la vista, baby.
The amazing, counterintuitive thing I’ve discovered in the aftermath of loss, however, is just how much opportunity there is for gain in such situations. Perspective, wisdom, appreciation and love are all there for the taking if you open yourself up and let them in. As one friend told me, sometimes losing something creates a space for something there simply wasn’t room for in the past, something even better.
I’m now experiencing such space-filling on a regular basis. So many remarkable people have been flying around in my midst yet I am just now catching them on my radar. Others I have been aware of for some time but never fully understood their depths until now. In both cases, it was only through unexpected instability that I was able to recognize the most stable of those who surrounded me.
In fact, contradiction seems to be a recurring theme in questionable times. Out of murkiness comes clarity. Out of darkness comes light. Out of doubt comes confidence. And out of the extraordinarily unamusing comes a renewed gratitude for humor in the world.
Even when a situation isn’t itself funny, being able to find humor in other everyday matters can greatly take the edge off. When my life was at the height of unfunny this year, I made a conscious decision to remember to pay attention to the fun, happy stuff. Yes, I did have stints as Debbie Downer and Stressed-Out Sally, but thankfully I was able to rein Happy Harriet back in when needed. In whatever ways the post-weddings-and-babies midlife adult world may tend to crumble around us from time to time, rays of light and humor always remain close enough for us to grab onto for dear, wondrous life. Sunshine never seems more beautiful than when it’s randomly poking through the clouds.
The truth is that life isn’t inherently funny; we learn to make it funny in order to get by. Comedians don’t often reference their uncomplicated relationships, healthy bank accounts and unbelievably good fortune. In fact, most of them make a living by honing in on what isn’t decent or doesn’t make sense in the world and then detailing all of the ways we can laugh it off.
I’ve found the best way to laugh off my own struggles and runs of bad luck is to view my life from an outsider’s perspective. A baby suddenly covered in feces as you’re ready to walk out the door doesn’t always feel funny, but it no doubt has potential for the comedically open-minded. If giant messes, stretches of miscommunication, ill-conceived plans and flat-out irony are hilarious when they happen on “Three’s Company,” “The Cosby Show” and “Modern Family,” why can’t we just find humor when the same happens to us?
No matter what difficulties we may be facing, there are always enough rose-colored glasses, half-full glasses of lemonade and humorous undertones just sitting around and waiting to minimize the pain, ease the stress and help us move on. If we allow it, even the worst of times can be so damn funny.
Shannon and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.