Saturday, July 9, 2011


If there was ever a time when we needed to laugh, it is now. Besides the shocking news of scandalous behavior of politicians, the stagnant economy, the unemployment, the endless wars, the drug disease infecting our city, we have the painful reminders of the April tornado to darken our mood.

As I drive around and see the brutal evidence of that tornado that huffed and puffed and blew some of our houses down, I get depressed.

Gone are the trees that were like canopies covering the roads, giving us welcome shade,filtering the heavy rains. Some trees, barely alive, are stark naked, stripped of their leaves, hunched over with broken and blackened branches, appearing helpless and sad. Others lie dead with huge clumps of soil and worm-like roots still attached, looking as if they were yanked out of the ground by a giant hand, waiting to be cut into small pieces and taken to God knows where. Beautiful and historic homes, buildings with familiar and popular businesses, houses of worship luckily empty, all appear to have been stepped on and crushed by some giant foot.

We need something to ease the pain. Laughter. Laughter is the lubricant that helps us roll with the punches, bear our burdens, lift our spirits, go with the flow.

Laughter is defined as a reaction to certain stimuli which serves as an emotional balancing mechanism. It's considered a visual expression of happiness, or an inward feeling of joy. It may happen after hearing a joke, being tickled, or reading a cartoon. Researchers have shown infants as early as 17 days old have vocal laughing sounds or laughter.

There is a link between laughter and healthy function of blood vessels. It was found that laughter causes the dilation of their inner lining and increases blood flow. Freud theorized that laughter releases tension and psychic energy. His theory is one of the justifications of the beliefs that laughter is beneficial for one's health and explains why laughter can used be as a coping mechanism when one is upset, angry or sad.

And so, since I suspect many if not all of us are upset, angry and/or sad, I think we should begin to laugh more. I’m not suggesting everybody is wearing an upside down smiley face. It’s just that I don’t hear much laughter lately. Yes, surely there was laughter at the recent Celebrate Cullman event and that was a good start to the healing process for our town.

The story is told of the game warden who stopped a redneck carrying some fish as he got out of his rowboat. “No fishing allowed”, said the warden. “ I ain’t fishin”, said the redneck, “I’m trainin’ my fish by letting them swim free for a while every day. Here, let me show ya” and he threw the fish back into the lake. The warden was not convinced and told him to hand over the fish. The redneck said, “What fish?”

Okay, I hope I made you laugh. Now it’s your turn. Make someone laugh today.