I was thinking today about a very good friend who is simply in a difficult set of circumstances. She is immensely capable, resourceful, witty, hardworking and completely unself-pitying. But is in a long-running set of adverse circumstances which would put the frighteners on any optimist. In all this greyness, where is the colour? And a phrase came to me:
“Follow the thread of laughter”
Like the legend of Theseus finding his way out of the maze after fighting the monster – by following a ball of thread given to him by Ariadne, who loved him – I think that genuine humour, in the greyness of difficulty, stress and bone-weariness is a relief of light.
To be able to laugh, even briefly, is such a gift. In the middle of a sad story or pressured time, to find the wry comment, the one-liner, the ruefully hilarious simile, the self-deprecating remark – brings a genuine laugh, a release of tension.
This is something I can do for my friend. Send a card that appeals to a shared sense of humour, tweet a comment, write a letter, fire off a facetious text. Throw out the ball of thread that promises lightness at the end of the tunnel, another emergence into the light. And to help ourselves, sometimes seek out a humorous book or TV series. For myself, when social media becomes saccharine, sentimental and unbearably “cute” I treat myself to a slightly astringent dose of humour such as an episode of TV humour: “Black Books” or “Blackadder”. Or when recovering from flu, in that one day of blahness, when the body and mind feel like porridge, a good dose of radio comedy or smart witty panel games just brings back that zzhuzh and sparkle of life. The promising sound of laughter.