Monday, August 13, 2007
Laughter, Like Medicine
I just finished rereading my favorite part of Betty MacDonald's, Anybody Can Do Anything, the part where she finds a job tinting photographs back there in the 1930's in a shop where, to the owner, the more ghoulish and garish the photo tinting, the better. I had to slip down here to the basement because Tom is sleeping (graveyard shift last night) and I was afraid my guffawing aloud would wake him.
I love Betty's books, at least, the one I mentioned above and also Onions in the Stew and The Plague and I. Her first book, The Egg and I, well, on a few levels, I didn't like, though I do own the movie.
Only Betty could give the Great Depression a funny spin and only Betty could make having tuberculosis in a sanitarium sound like one humorous adventure after another.
Each year I try to reread at least two of Betty's books, but always I know how I'll feel when I finish them. A bitter-sweetness will hang over me a couple days (Betty died at only 49 of cancer... back in the days when no one was talking about how dangerous smoking could be). But mostly I feel--once again--the yearning, yearning, yearning to have even one-tenth of Betty's sense of humor. (Or even less would be terrific by me. I'll take whatever I can.)
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."
There are many reasons the Bible says that. Without a sense of humor,well, we are sunk. Generally, old, serious sober-side-types (or saddos, as Betty called them) repel people instead of draw them. We can even repel ourselves from ourselves, not wanting to be alone with our old, negative self. And we can sink, even albeit slowwwly, into sad, murky-green depths where the whole world appears sad and murky-green through our eyes... while lots of other people are living and seeing and breathing a whole different, glad way--and perhaps leaving a God-is-good impression.
And no, I don't mean we're to laugh our way through Life. And yes, there is a balance and a time for everything. But as for me, I want to lean toward the happy side of the scale.
I'm glad I'm rereading Betty's books. They are like the proverbial shot in the arm and they are changing, as they always do, my eyesight as I look upon my current state of affairs.
"Happy is the man that finds wisdom, and the man that gets understanding." ... Proverbs 3:13
"I will be glad and rejoice in You..." Psalm 9:2