Humor and honesty.

There’s a story my mother used to tell.  When she was s child, she went swimming in a lake one afternoon and the current began to carry her further and further from the shore.  She didn’t feel strong enough to swim against it, and thought she would drown.  She told this story on a few occasions and I once asked her how she felt, when she was treading water, drifting further from shore.  “I felt sad”, she said, “I would never see my mom and dad or Uncle Clarence ever again.”

One time, telling the story at a gathering, a friend of hers asked, “Why didn’t you cry out for help?”

“Because I was too embarrassed!”

That was the punch line.  Laughter.

How funny should a person try to be?  My mother thought she was going to die, for crissakes.  Humor can provide a salutary perspective on things, but can also trivialize our experiences.  As Nietzsche said, “A joke is an epigraph on the death of a feeling.”  A person without humor is emotionally distant, but so is the comedian who is always “on”.

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Some will disagree, but I found this funny:

And this also:

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