It is of course possible to feel thanks and gratitude, despite Trump's slash-and-burn campaign, and the imminent demise of much of what we might hold dear.
A Thanksgiving Message From Wake Up Laughing
"And on the 8th day God saw the world was funny,
and She created laughter." -- Swami Beyondananda
Dear Friends, Fans and Co-Hearts:
After a recent show, an audience member came up to me and said, "Thanks for the laughs."
I replied, "Actually, I laughed very little during my show. Thank YOU for the laughs."
So ... to my audience, whether you've seen the show live or are chuckling at the Daily Laughsitives or You Tube pieces or written work or CDs ... thanks for the laughs.
To be perfectly honest, I create comedy to amuse myself and promote sanity in my field. Sometimes Trudy and I laugh uproariously at a little joke just between us, and other times I am in front of an audience that is "tickled" to laugh. When I'm out in public, I engage with strangers and commit "random acts of comedy" that leave people laughing or certainly smiling. Just about anyone can learn to give "cosmic comic darshan" -- I've just had years of practice.
And while it doesn't take much to make me laugh even if I am by myself, laughter and comedy are social phenomena. They are ways of sparking, weaving and sustaining community and connection. Even in our darkest moments -- perhaps especially at these times -- we recognize how much better it is to laugh together than to cry separately. A room filled with laughing people brightens everyone in the space.
The recent election that blew the lid off of our toxic political system has left many feeling bereft, devastated, discouraged, and in danger. We are in uncharted territory, in a more "real" reality than the illusory "all is well" that held together during the neoliberal rule of Obama.
In recent generations, comedy has been an effective weapon of "mass-deconstruction" as social satirists from George Carlin to John Oliver have been "pumping ironies" to bring toxic contradictions to the fore. Never before have we been so aware of what is not working. And while laughing in the face of darkness can boost our spirits, it may be time for comedy to take on an even more generative task: Encourage us as we build a new world, despite the obstacles.
This weekend, many of us will be sitting down to feast with relatives who might share a different political or spiritual perspective. (That's probably why we are put in families.) Humor and laughter can provide the bridge from heart to heart, even if in our minds we feel separated by a huge chasm. Here some ideas for using humor to build rather than blow up bridges:
1. Remember, recall and recount good times shared, particularly family traditions and childhood memories. Families that play together, stay together.
2. Play games that involve creativity and emotional expression, like charades.
3. Watch funny movies. A doctor I know actually writes out prescriptions for movies like "Waking Ned Devine", a poignant and hilarious human comedy anyone can enjoy.
4. Bring toys. A friend of mine used to celebrate his birthday by inviting friends over to bring toys -- including squirt guns -- and play like children.
5. Share jokes that are "appropriate for any audience." That's what Trudy and I did when we lived in a predominantly-Baptist town in Texas. Jokes became the currency of communication and connection.
6. Design and initiate new traditions that involve laughter and play. It's so easy to look outside ourselves and our family for entertainment "out there". Grow your own fun, and you will "overgrow" the things that seemingly divide you.
7. Remember and affirm the love that is at the core of who you are to one another. Even if the divide causes emotions to get hot -- or cold -- hold the space in the center, and allow the peace to take hold. You might also prepare for some grief or sorrow as well, as people grieve the separation that has divided kin.
In these times of uncertainty, the only reassurance comes from the love in our hearts, and the reflection of that love we see in our loved ones. May we all attune in to the "Supreme Beam" this holiday season!
Steve, Swami, Trudy, Annette at Wake Up Laughing