It gives us the greatest pleasure to introduce a rare LonerWolf guest post by author of Celebrating Time Alone, Lionel Fisher. For a period of six years, Lionel lived alone on a solitary Pacific Northwest beach reflecting on life, and how seclusion could be used to create happier, wholer and wiser people. We hope you enjoy his thoughts today!
If cavemen had known how to laugh, history would have been different. ~ Chuck Klosterman
I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person. ~ Audrey Hepburn
Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing.” ~ Jarod Kintz
The other day I asked my buddy, Alberto Terego, what he feared most in life. Expecting him to answer, “Death” or “Alzheimer’s” or “Being old in America,” even “Republicans,” I was flabbergasted when he said, “Humorless people.”
Noting my surprise, Terego added, “Most of the misery in the world is caused by people with no sense of humor.”
“How do you figure that?” I asked him. “Because they wind up taking themselves too seriously, which makes them mean and unhappy,” he replied. “If all the emperors, kings, dictators and presidents throughout history had been able to laugh at themselves, there would have been no wars, for one thing.”
Ignoring my apparent incredulity, Terego went on: “If politicians had a sense of humor, there would be no bureaucrats, no red tape, no long lines in government offices.”
“There would be fewer laws, less crime, no world hunger except for dieters. If corporate heads had a sense of humor, there would be no price-gouging, no rampant greed, no obscene profits. Well, maybe a few angry stockholders, but those with a sense of humor would soon get over it. Humorlessness causes couples to divorce, families to become estranged, friends to part, governments to fail.”
“I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous,” I retorted, the veins in my temple starting to throb.
Terego’s obvious amusement grew. “People who can’t experience joy wind up trying to fill their hollow parts with material things, to convince themselves they’re happy,” he continued, his grin broadening.
“And the emptier they feel, the harder they work so they can buy more stuff to fill up the emptiness when all they have to do is learn how to laugh again. At themselves, in particular.”
I was so upset, I couldn’t come up with an answer.
Terego didn’t wait for one. “Let me ask you something,” he went on. “How much unhappiness in your life has been caused by taking yourself too seriously?”
He had me there.
“Most of it,” I admitted sheepishly.
I’ve often thought how much happier I would have been if I hadn’t tried so hard to impress other people. And that came, I know, from taking myself too seriously.
“There you go,” Terego said.
“It’s not that simple,” I shot back.
“Why are you getting so angry?” Terego asked quietly.
“Because you’re a jerk,” I told him, starting to feel like a kid on a playground.
“True,” he said, the huge grin returning. “But that’s not the reason you’re angry. It’s because you ought to be laughing at yourself right now—and at me—but you’ve forgotten how. Worse, you’ve forgotten why you ought to be laughing instead of getting angry.”
“People who can laugh at themselves get upset over relatively few things in life.
People who can’t, well, they get upset over everything. They wind up starting wars—big ones if they can, small ones if they can’t.”
That did it. I couldn’t take any more, so I did what any reasonable person would. I called him a jerk and walked away.
Last thing I heard was the old fool laughing, which made me even madder. I went home, kicked the cat and stayed miserable all night.
If there’s anything I can’t stand it’s someone who doesn’t take himself seriously.
Lionel Fisher is the author of Celebrating Time Alone: Stories of Splendid Solitude.