Archive for January 7th, 2009


The best medicine

The funeral for my friend was today. As expected, a huge portion of the school (students and teachers alike) wanted to attend, but since we couldn’t just close down the school we kind of went in shifts. I went to the wake and came back during the actual funeral.

It was hard. I’ll miss her tremendously.

Let’s talk about last night instead of today. Something happened last night that really got to me in a way I didn’t expect. I’m working on a play right now, Don’t Drink the Water. My sister, Heather, is directing the show and doing a great job. But this has been a bad week for a lot of people. With the loss of my friend and the return to school, I was feeling major stress. Another friend of mine in the cast just got some bad news about her grandfather, so she was upset as well. Plus, it was the first night we were off-book for Act II, which meant lots of screw-ups, lots of flubs, and lots of problems. Frankly, everybody was a big bundle of tension. And as the night wore on, it just got worse.

Then came the party scene, where I make a crack about being mixed up with someone else and getting his “meat bills and phone messages.”

Only that wasn’t what I said. On this — one line that I usually don’t flub — I blurted out, “I kept getting all his phone bills and meat messages!”

I know, it’s not that funny right now, reading it, but that’s not really the point. I chuckled when I realized what I said, as we often do when we flub. But then after that first chuckle, I heard everyone else laughing and… something happened. It was like a floodgate opened. I started to laugh and I just couldn’t stop.Then my friend, the one worried about her grandfather, started to laugh too. Then it was like a chain reaction — everyone was laughing, faces were turning red, my buddy Paul leapt to his feet and started doing a routine about taking a phone call from a T-bone steak… it was a good five minutes before everybody could compose themselves and get back to work. I was the last one to stop laughing.

But after that… things were better. It wasn’t a huge thing, it didn’t actually fix any of the things we’re all worried about… but that release was like manna to us. Just getting all that emotion, all that tension out of our system, had such a huge impact that suddenly, just for a few minutes, things were better, and we could get through the rest of the night.

I’ve never before seen such a perfect illustration of the healing power of laughter.

January 2009

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