Michael Cundall Jr.
The Wonderful Finality of a Good Joke
Mel Brooks once said that “humor is just another defense against the universe.” I find the ability to laugh off difficulty, to approach the craziness that is our world with a smile, to be fascinating and a source of endless reward. So many people I admire have found ways to use humor in the most difficult of times. There’s something so completely final as a good laugh in a tough spot. It’s this beautiful pause that restores and rejuvenates us as we move on.
I am an amateur woodworker and often it’s a challenge for me to think in a visual way. As you can imagine, that makes woodworking, so dependent on good visual spatial abilities, can cause me fits. I have progressed much slower than many. I imagine if I’d been employed in a woodworking shop, I’d have long ago been asked to leave. So one day I was working on a big project and there was a failure that I had never contemplated. It was a biggie. My wife said that I looked as dejected as she’d ever seen me. After I sort of processed the calamity, I posted about it on Facebook. A woodworking friend of mine made a joke making fun of the situation and then quipped as a sort of apology “Too soon?” In truth, it was funny, and then I realized that it wasn’t too soon. Rather it wasn’t soon enough. I should have been moving on. The failure wasn’t going to change, only my attitude towards moving forward. And that joke helped me change my attitude.
That’s beauty of a good joke or quip. They remind us of the finality of the situation. No amount of anger or sadness was going to change the fact that my build was messed up. What’s more, my bad feelings were keeping me from doing the most important thing—standing back and figuring a way out of the situation. It took the humor, the joke of a friend to rouse me from my melancholy. The laugh helped me to not only feel better, but also see beyond the issue to begin figuring out how to solve the problem. And that was and still is huge.
So I recommend that even in the most difficult of times press yourself to find something funny. The world is full of crazy, laughable things. You’ll get on all the better for it when you tap into humor in such times. I did and I am forever grateful to my friend for making the joke he did.