As I was heading out to knitting the other night, I said “Elliot, would you put the kettle on please? I’m going to make some tea to take to knitting.” Of course, what I really meant was “I’m going to roll a couple of spliffs before I head out to the rave.” It’s our special code.
I like to try to make light of things around me. Humour is always the loser in analysis, but bear with me. What’s that story about? It’s an observation of how we change as we age, by poking fun at the absurdity of a dull middle-aged woman getting ripped and going to a rave. Is it a funny story? I think so. Not gut-bustin’, rip-roarin’ LOL funny, but gently observational.
Some of you will recall a very serious exchange I had on Facebook a few months ago, in which I was accused of not having a sense of humour. I do have a sense of humour; it doesn’t extend to bigotry and abuse. I stand by my statement that some things just aren’t funny. I find diverse things and people funny. I think Garrison Keillor and Fran Liebowitz are hilarious. I think The Big Bang Theory is hilarious. I also think Mitch Hedberg and George Carlin were hilarious. They’re not so very different, they all rely on observational humour, not on cruelty or debasement. They find themselves and their own reactions and preconceptions as funny as those of the people around them.
Lately, in looking around, I’m a little overwhelmed by negativity. Facebook seems to be full of it. “UGH”, and “I hate when…”. Belittling others to elevate ourselves. The ego, the braggadocio; it always seems to me that those that brag the most have the least to brag about. Maybe that’s puritanical of me. I don’t know. I do know that it’s tiresome, and a little humility never hurt anyone. Pride in achievements is great, but not every little thing we do is a great achievement. We can’t be so self-righteous that we can’t see the humour in ourselves. Sure, sometimes the behaviour of others is funny, but so is our own. We’re very imperfect beings, even Brangelina.
And the hate, the hate, the hate. I was privileged to hear Dr. Eva Olsson speak on CBC radio a couple of years ago, on Remembrance Day. She is a holocaust survivor, and speaks at schools and other institutions about her experiences and observations. She has also written books on the subject, one with Ron Jacques (formerly of BMLSS, who also took the breathtaking photographs in the book) “Remembering Forever – A Journey of Darkness and Light”.
“We label people so we can hate them before we get to know them.”, she states. The message that really stuck with me, though, is her admonishment to young people not to hate, not even to use the word “hate”. Hate killed her family, and millions of others. Hate caused and is still causing untold grief for the whole planet. It is a destructive force, and doesn’t deserve to be mentioned. Ever since that day, I have tried not to use it. Sometimes it slips out, but when it does, I’m very conscious of it, and try to rephrase my thoughts. I don’t “hate” the call centre employees who smoke on the steps to my office. It bothers me, and I wish they wouldn’t. And I certainly don’t “hate” oatmeal.
When my sons were younger, one of them went through a very dark, negative, nihilistic stage. He wanted to be jaded; he was sarcastic and oft times quite rude and difficult. My advice: don’t confuse negativity with maturity. He has gone through many, many changes since then, and is a much more peaceful, spiritual soul. He sees the unseen, and believes the unproven, and is very much at home in the universe.
Here. Do you think the Dalai Lama is immature? It is, I think, obvious that he is a wise and tireless force for good in the world. He makes us want to be better people. Is he negative? Not that I have ever witnessed or read. On the contrary, he seems to take great pleasure in life, and is most often seen with a fantastic lit-up smile. I’d like him to tell me a joke, maybe the one he told to Bishop Tutu.