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I Got Skills: And Some Wine

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If you could choose to be a master of any skill in the world, which skill would you pick? Good question, right? I’m still in a bit of a writing funk, having fallen into a vast vortex of nothingness, so I thought I would check out the Daily Prompt from WordPress. I like their question, so — what’s my answer?

I wonder if it’s cheating to pick a skill that people tell me I’ve already got.

Maybe this is supposed to be something to which I aspire. If it is an aspiration, then I’d like to be a brilliant creative writer: My words and I would become one, and my prose and poetry would conjure up vivid images and intense emotions and move my readers from laughter to tears in a matter of moments — and I would never, ever, fall into a vast vortex of nothingness.

Woman Writing Letter by Gerard ter Borch. Public Domain, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Woman Writing Letter by Gerard ter Borch. Public Domain, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

But meanwhile, back in reality, I will choose a skill that I’ve been told I already possess to some degree. Some call it a “welcoming spirit,” some tell me I’m “easy to talk to,” and some say I make them “feel at home.” Others say I make them laugh a lot. Or it could just be the wine.

Anyway, that’s the skill I want — to make people feel comfortable. Not a big deal, but it makes me happy to be relaxed and open with people, and that’s easier if they feel comfortable with me.

Dysfunctional Roots and Shoots

I developed this skill as a way of coping while growing up in an alcoholic home — if I could get people laughing, lighten the mood, relax the tension, then I might prevent the nightly dinner table dramas and arguments. The stakes were high, because if laughter failed, I would have to break the tension by spilling my milk, and then I’d get yelled at. 

As a child, this coping mechanism served me well, although as an adult it morphed into a desperate need to be loved and resulted in some pretty dysfunctional behaviors. But I’ve worked hard to rid myself of emotional baggage, and now I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of me (yeah, right).

C’mon, Smile

I’ve also used the skill in a professional capacity. Having an easy-going, accessible personality came in handy when I was an environmental lobbyist on Capitol Hill. One of my secret personal goals was to get a staffer or member of Congress to laugh in the first five minutes of our meeting. Even if they were super-conservative, right-wing folks that I simply needed to cross off my list and from whom I had no chance of getting an environmental vote, I still wanted them to listen to my pitch. Putting them at ease was essential.

I’d probably make a good salesperson, except oh my God, talk about a vast vortex of nothingness.

Wanna Be Friends?

The skill I’m after is not the lobbyist’s insincere, slightly manipulative, chumminess. What I want to master is friendliness. Like comfy slippers or a purring cat, I just want to be a good friend. And I’ll bring the wine.

So – if you could choose a skill, what would it be?

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And God Said, “Let There Be Laughter!”

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What makes you laugh? I’m sometimes embarrassed by the things that strike me funny. My twisted sense of humor reveals to the world that I’m not a nice church lady after all.

I will never forget the time I was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. with a bunch of friends. A marine jogged by looking all fit and spiffy in his crew cut, military shortie-shorts, and tight t-shirt. Then he ran right into a No Parking sign at the edge of the sidewalk.

I lost it, doubled over, tears running down my face – the whole bit. And then I realized that all of my friends were staring at me straight-faced. What can I say?

I Blame the Brits

Do you remember the 1970s TV show Laugh In? OK, maybe you’re not that old. In every episode, this bizarre character in a hooded raincoat would be tootling along on a tricycle and then just suddenly tip over. Sometimes he would run into something, but oftentimes the tricycle would just slowly roll onto its side.

This sent me into fits every time. As soon as Arte Johnson pedaled onto the screen, I would start laughing. Just stupid, I know.

I blame it on my British heritage — Monty Python, and the like.

I’m that person with the loud laugh who sits in the corner of the movie theater and guffaws when nobody else is laughing.

A Better Kind of Laughter

In my Easter post, I used the words, “Let there be laughter,” and a reader commented that he loved that phrase and wondered why the Creator had not spoken those words in Genesis.

That’s a great question.  My guess is that God did call forth laughter – it’s just that overly serious religious people weren’t channeling God’s sense of humor when they penned the scriptures.

Just imagine God creating the universe: you can’t help but laugh. Splashing colors here and there, making fireflies and galaxies and sunsets and stripes on zebras and trunks on elephants and snouts on aardvarks and tubular necks on spotted giraffes. I see God getting more and more excited, laughing and creating and saying, “It is good, it is good!” God’s throwing around beauty and abundance and letting Her/His creativity run wild, knowing that humans would share in the joy.

jeanette

Then religious folks came along and got all proper and started dressing up for church. Bummer.

I don’t care whether you think the creation story is fact, a lovely myth that points to profound universal truth, or a load of bunk created as a crutch by humans afraid of dying – you have to appreciate that laughter is a deep and healing part of who we are as a species. It can bring us together, mend mistrust, heal emotional wounds, and bring perspective to our losses and sadness. We were meant to laugh.

Lighten Up, Christians

I think we should all laugh more often. Church people especially. The Bible talks about joy repeatedly. Joy is called a “fruit of the Spirit,” an indication that one has the channels open for God. Jesus said many times that he came to bring joy, complete joy. Not guilt, shame, or judgment, but joy and love.

Let there be laughter!

Let there be laughter!

One central message of Christianity is that we are free from fear and shame and the need to perform and prove ourselves. Why wouldn’t we be laughing? We are living in grace and freedom. Yet most of the Christian preachers on television are promoting fear and shame and/or telling you to send money so that God will bring you lots more money for yourself. Laugh too much and you’re probably going to Hell.

Nonsense. Go forth and laugh! Just don’t laugh at other people’s misfortunes . . . I mean, what kind of person would do that?

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