Day 4: "Laughter's the shortest distance between two people." - Victor Borge
As I said on Avalon's site, I truly believe in this. Normally, I enjoy making people laugh. But as a dear friend holds her son for his last hours...there isn't much joy in my heart. Before I go about the business of this entry, I want to share Jen's most recent Caringbridge update with you.
"Matthew is still here with us. He has always done the opposite of what the doctors and nurses think! I have been holding him in my lap almost every minute. I get this strange ache in my arms if I put him down. I know I'm going to have that ache for the rest of my life so I'm holding him as much as I can now.
Our pastor came over yesterday and prayed with us for Matthew to go to Heaven. As much as we don't want to lose him, we also know that the Matthew we know and love isn't really there anymore. We are praying for a peaceful transition for him, from our arms into Jesus' arms. Thank you for all of your prayers. "
Am I going to try to find something funny to say after that? NO. But I do have a point to make....
Matthew is exactly the reason I want to pursue becoming a humor writer. Does that seem counter-intuitive? Well, it's not.
Actually, I knew I wanted to be humor writer years upon years ago. When my oldest, Aurora, was an infant, I would write columns to amuse myself. I've probably written thousands of columns through the years, most of which were never written down. I write columns as I drive. I write them standing in line in the grocery. I write them as I fall asleep at night and mull over the events of the day. 99.9% of the time they're darned funny, and frankly, about exactly nothing. I'll see something that tickles my funny bone, and my head goes straight to what I would say about it, how I would structure a column about it. When I was a first time new mom, the columns centered around diapers, spit up, and the sudden realization that life revolves around bodily functions. Gee, I wonder why?
Long ago, in the days before (before I ever even knew there would be an Avalon, much less the world she would introduce me to), I wanted to write to show people that they take themselves too damn seriously. I wanted to be the next Erma Bombeck to shout to the world, "Take a chill pill, folks! Life is FUN, stop stressing over stupid stuff!"
I still want to do that. Only now, I feel a quiet desperation to do so. Now, in the after, I want to stand on rooftops and scream to the world, "YOU DON'T KNOW HOW GOOD YOU HAVE IT!! STOP GRIPING AND ENJOY LIFE!" I want to spend every day reminding people that life is hysterical, if they'd stop kvetching long enough to look around them.
But that's not all of the story anymore. I now have an insidious, sneaky secondary reason that I want to be heard. I want to make people learn to like me...so they'll listen to what I need them to hear. It's true, laughter does bind people together. If I can figure out how to make thousands of people laugh on a regular basis, then every now and then, when I need to get serious...they just might pay attention. Crazy, isn't it?
I'm not looking for fame and fortune. I'm looking for fame alone. I don't give two poots for fancy cars, big houses, or any of the other trappings of fortune. I want fame - because with fame comes credibility. Is that fair? No, but it's the reality of our society. There's a reason charities clambor for celebrity endorsements. People listen to celebrities. They identify with them, imagine themselves as 'friends' of the celebrities, and they LISTEN to what they have to say.
Let's face it, I'm never going to be body beautiful, and I'm at least a few decades late to begin my Oscar-winning acting career. My singing voice approximates more of an off-tune macaw than a lilting nightingale, and my fashion designing prowesse is limited to designing Halloween costumes for the 8 and under set. I'm nearly positive none of the above will win me accolades or national attention. But I can write. I can take a normal day, find the funny in it, and share it with people. I can also take a day and show you the poignant side of life, and why you need to learn to see it. It's taken me years to have the courage to say it, but I...can...write. Now I need to figure out how to do it for the masses...
So why do I seek fame so desperately? Because I want to grab that elusive golden ring of credibility. I want people to seek out my words, so that when I need to, I can say something important. I want to bond with millions by making them laugh, so that I can grab their hearts and make them hear the heartbreak of one more mother...as she holds her child for the last time.
I want to celebrate the laughter and joy cancer kids bring to their loved ones, and the anguish of the silence when they leave. Laughter can bring us together, so that we stand as one in its absence.
I want to make people laugh...because I can't stand the thought of one more child dying in silence. I want someone to listen...