Throughout my 30 years, I have been poked, elbowed, pointed at, and told that I am too serious. In grade school, I remember hearing kids repeat jokes about the Challenger disaster and they were annoyed with me when I didn’t laugh; I went home and cried as I told my mom about them. When I was even younger, I can hear my parents telling people, “we think she was born 35.” Of course, I don’t even think they were 35 then. But, I agree that it was pretty true sometimes. My first words were a sentence in response to the question my mom asked me every day. “How are you doing Elizabeth?” She would usually then say, “Are you doing fine?” On that day, I guess I looked at her and said, “I’m doing fine, Mom.” Or something along those lines. I guess in a few years I will be catching up to myself.
Being told you are too serious, even by close friends, is something that can wear on a person. “Yes, I know” I want to say, “but I don’t know how else to be.” I have also realized that there were dynamics within my family that invited me to take on this role of being serious a lot of the time, of being “adult” when I was a child. But, I wouldn’t change any of it. Nope. I am growing into a person who really likes herself.
I am also someone who finds a lot of joy in my life. I like to smile. I have been accused of smiling too much. Which means, of course, that those people haven’t met the serious side of me who was born 35. In new situations, I often smile. If you find me smiling a lot but aren’t sure why, chances are I am slightly unsure of myself. Smiling makes people feel better, including me.
When I was ill at the end of last year, I told my friend Heather and my husband on several occasions that all I wanted to do was go to Disney World. I was having a lot of trouble finding the joy in my life. I honestly thought that if someone would just call and say, “you are leaving for The World tomorrow” everything would magically get better. The emotional drama I was experiencing, the health confusion, the fear, the anger…all of it. If I could just go to Disney World. To explain, I don’t mean I think Disney World takes it all away. (Never fear, I get the people who think the commercialism there is pretty crazy, not to mention the prices.) Nope. I mean I wanted to give my brain a rest. I wanted my senses to just get enveloped by the smell of chocolate chip cookies on Main Street USA, the music that fills the air, the sushi at the Matsu No Ma Lounge…and on and on. I just wanted a vacation from my life. But a vacation where I wouldn’t have time to think about it all. My friend Heather said something about how the reason I love Disney World so much is because someone else takes care of me there. The hotels, the people who work there…and I get to stand in line to hug a big monster named Sully (yep, you really get to hug him there – it is the best!). I get to giggle with glee like I did when I suddenly found myself surrounded by Chip, Dale, and Goofy at the MGM Studios. I get to peer with eyes of wonder at the landscape of France in the 360-degree movie at Epcot. I get to have high tea at the Grand Floridian Hotel. I get to see giraffes right outside my hotel room when I stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I don’t have to drive; I just take a bus or the monorail. The soap has Mickey Mouse on it. I am given a break from all that thinking, from the lessons that need to be learned, from the many serious thoughts that invade my space all the time.
But in this desire to escape from the lessons, I find another lesson. What is it that I love? I love the laughter. I get to feel like a kid. That is why I love Disney World. I get to be an 8 year old. Finally.
So this year, I know I probably won’t make it to Disney World, but I plan to invite more laughter into my life. I want to read books filled with humor and watch funny movies. I want to sit with friends and tell funny stories. I want to go and hear comedians. I want to laugh until my cheeks hurt. I want to laugh until I cry.
I extend the invitation to bring laughter into my life.
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