Laughter Lines Hit Hard
Dinner and a Show
It comes from somewhere inside of you. Almost as if it is always there, ready to escape. It has a different voice, singular to every person in reaction to the experiences that make us let go of our insecurities. It’s involuntary and beautiful. Laughter is an entity of its own.
Rhythmic, vocalized, expiratory and involuntary actions.
An expression or appearance of merriment.
The experience or manifestation of mirth, amusement, scorn, or joy.
Those that sit before me each experience this bliss differently, but in that moment, we are all connected. Would this be real if we all reacted the same way? To my right sits a young girl, caught off guard by my words. She sticks out her jaw as her mouth opens wide and her eyes expand. She is honestly astounded at first, but she can’t fight the urge to laugh. Another girl is hardly recognizable in the position she assumes while cracking-up. Her body shrinks to half the size, seizing in a frenzied convulsion of giggles. She makes almost no sound, but it is obvious that she has succumbed to laughter. A cool girl loses her head as her jaw flies open with a peal that warms your heart. She turns away and shuts her eyes, as if trying to keep them from falling out. I sit with them, guffawing right along, and my entire being fills with light.
The body reacts as the brain registers the information that causes you to laugh. An involuntary impulse invades and makes you bubble over in an expression that is its own form of happiness. Can we say that we cause laughter, or does it exist apart from us? Some philosophers have theorized that laughter occurs when one trusts his or her companions; it comes as a sort of relief from danger. Charles Darwin, when commenting on laughter, said it’s, “a tickling of the mind”. These concepts refer to both the physical and psychological aspects of us, however, should we assume that any definition could sum up the entirety of such an unpredictable aspect of life?
I listen to the rumbling, tinkling, booming sounds filling the air above us as those I engage let go of the social restraints that bind them. Heads thrown back, arms clenched, jaws extended, eyes shut, bodies doubled over. These are the symptoms of happiness. If in this moment nothing exists but this feeling, we have found reality.
Laughter has been studied and tested, and yet precision is unattainable. We can’t reproduce the same effect in ten different subjects because not all of them will think the control is funny. People laugh because on a subconscious level, the stimulus affects them in a significant way. Personally, I believe laughter is a channel. It builds up and infects others and draws them in to your field of perception, if only for a moment. Unity is established. If there is one thing we all strive for, it’s unity.
When you laugh the brain tells the body to release chemicals such as serotonin to combat the steroids present because of stress. On a chemical level, you are changed for the better. One of the first things a child learns to do is laugh. It’s instinctual and beautiful.
I look around the table and examine the aftermath of this humorous onslaught. Everyone recovers at a different pace. The effects of the last joke still etched in their faces. I wish I had a mirror. I have never seen myself laugh, but I’m sure it is a unique insight that few truly hold. Society tells us that we are not individuals created by ourselves for ourselves. It says we are products of our environment and the mere desire to think apart from the whole doesn’t make it so. What if we are both right? What if the individual is split down the middle, both a separate entity with the ability to have personal experiences and a working cell embodied in a larger societal organism? Why do we have to be one or the other?
There are three theories used to explain the principle of laughter. The first, incongruity theory, states that when we anticipate one thing and get another, we react in an emotional and unpredictable way. The second theory, superiority theory, suggests that we laugh in response to the mistakes and imperfections of others. The third theory, relief theory, contends that humor is in response to strain. We undergo stressful situations and then, assuming there was a relatively positive outcome, we laugh just to ease the tension. All of these theories could easily satisfy the average researcher, however I intend to delve into a deeper pool of ancient wisdom.
An outburst of inescapable joy. (Brian just blew milk out of his nose.) Words can’t describe how bliss feels. This is a piece of the true reality we are meant to experience. Why do we try so hard to suppress the truth? Why do we hide behind the mundane, everyday activities we have established for ourselves, or that we have let society create for us? Why can’t we take control by letting go? We are determined to strangle a deeper meaning from everything, when what we really need to grasp sits just outside of our shrouded perception. We create the barriers that divide our true selves from this manifestation of solid definition.
Sometimes we can’t explain why we laugh. It spills forward with no stimulus at all. Where is the scientific data to support the spontaneous attack of giggles that hits us in the middle of Chemistry? I wish I knew, but in the same token I think I already do. We are amused by ourselves. I look at my life and I am entertained by the experiences I have. I see a curious girl running through life with only one eye open. She tries to grasp that higher consciousness, but still she gets caught up in her day to day ego driven life.
I shake my head and smile. How do we proceed? For now, I think I’ll just keep looking around. So many things are happening right here and now. Talking, walking, thinking, reacting, mimicking. People do these things every day, but I invite you to catch them off guard with a good joke. It’s funny just to watch them having fun. People are too serious.
I sit at the head of the table, not because I’m older or superior, but because I like to watch all of their faces. Everyone is so different but as soon as the punch line hits, we are all connected by it. Expressions and contortions all let loose from their internal cages. My one friend calls it, “the weird” but I just think it’s awesome. Why should we hide it? It’s who we are.
As for the joke? You kind of had to be there for it…