One of my best friends recently described the ability to make people laugh as a cheap means of buying affection. Up until this moment I had always assumed that the way to my heart was through my stomach. (Strange expression as surely the way to my heart is through my taste buds? I have always maintained I’ll love you forever if you feed me pizza, but I won’t be feeling so warm and fuzzy if it’s burnt.) And yet I have plenty of friends who are unable to cook but none who are unable to make me laugh. Clearly I value the power of laughter above most things, including pizza. And I’m not alone. Laughter is unifying. Every person on earth is fluent in the language of laughter. Laughter is defusing, and strengthening. As J.K. Rowling’s boggarts prove beautifully, there are plenty of terrifying things in the world which are made less terrifying when we poke fun at them: spiders; exams; Kim Jung-un. The ability to make someone laugh shouldn’t be thought of as ‘cheap’ but as the most valuable thing of all. Laughter is the best medicine. Live, laugh, love.
Anyway, it made me realise why I haven’t properly posted on here for so long: because I wanted to make you – the internet – laugh and I wasn’t convinced that I could. (Sure, I might have made a half-hearted joke a few weeks ago about the death of the Iron Lady but all in all I thought it best to let her rust in peace.) I don’t feel that my world is a very funny place at the moment. Everywhere I turn, I am confronted with endings. The ending of university. The ending of relationships. The ending of eras.
Nobody likes endings. We might say things like ‘when one door closes another door opens’ but that is because we do like beginnings. Beginnings are fun! Endings? Not so much. What Alexander Graham Bell, credited inventor of the telephone, actually said was, “When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the one which has opened for us”. If you ever get dumped over the phone, or fired over the phone, or receive any kind of bad news over the phone, you should admire the poetry of the man warning against obsessing over closed doors providing you with the method of communication via which the door was closed.
Anyway. What put me in this decidedly un-peachy mood is the D word. No, not Dissertation – although let’s be honest that isn’t helping. Death. The biggest ending of them all. The ultimate closed door. I’ve spent the last few months thinking that one of my favourite people is going to die, and I won’t lie to you folks, it hasn’t been pretty. I wish I could tell you that I handled it with dignity but I’ve never believed in god and have always worshipped another kind of spirit: vodka. Drunkenly dancing on tables soon led to drunkenly cleaning someone else’s kitchen and then to the murky depths of drunkenly having a panic attack and sobbing into an array of arms belonging to various un-judgemental friends.
Pretty depressing, right? You might be shifting nervously in your seat right about now, thinking that you only clicked on this link because sometimes I crack a few whimsical jokes and get a bit enthusiastic with alliteration. And now you’re reading about death?! Hang on in there buddy; it’s about to get philosophical and awesome. Sort of.
I really thought about how world-shattering it would be if this particular person died. And I started to appreciate things more. The colour of the sky; the happy wag of Teddy’s tail; Boyfriend’s cooking. I know this kind of reaction is generally reserved for when your own mortality is scrutinised, not that of someone else. But as Steve Jobs so eloquently said, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Remembering that everyone around you is also going to die apparently has the same effect. We should all get busy living, laughing, and loving while we can. Laughing at funerals should never be frowned upon; rather applauded, boggart style. And making the people around you happy should never be thought of as something so cheap and cold as buying affection.
And if that didn’t cheer you up, today whilst doing some last minute research for my (insert particularly inventive swear word here) Dissertation I read a description of a stereotypical prostitute according to eminent nineteenth-century criminologist Cesare Lombroso, that so closely matched my physical appearance it could have been based on me. And if that isn’t enough to make a girl smile, I’m not sure what is.