(c) Copyright 2013, Margaret Langstaff
All Rights Reserved
As with an unfortunate minority of similarly wired souls, winter is always a down time for me. The gloom, the shorter days, the cold. They drain me utterly and I have to drag myself to my duties and responsibilities like a feeble, near lifeless wraith, barely getting only the most important chores done.
This year I decided to pull out all the stops and to throw everything I had at the Beast, including buying homeopathic tinctures out the wazoo, herbal teas that promised to deliver me to a state of nirvana with the first cup, dozens of movie DVDs to distract me and a bushels of pamper-yourself things up to and including a really Major Purchase (for me) of a huge, majestic, towering Light Therapy Lamp. Yep, that one really put me back some major change, but this was a crusade to avoid wasting two or three months out of the year in the murk of melancholy and easily justifiable. Hey, I am a veteran of winter blues—and a survivor of many bouts of those grey day downers—and so with all of this in mind, I conned myself into thinking at last I had it all figured out. I’d researched this malady for years and through trial and error eliminated all the usual remedies, but maybe it was all about obtaining a “critical mass” of defenses… just pile them up all around you, higher and higher? That HAD to be it, I was convinced. So I did exactly that and with unbridled glee at my sudden insight—an epiphany certainly—and the newfound value of all my miserable experience with Mister Nasty Melancholy. Yeah, man, and just look at all this stuff—and that big bad ass lamp! I’m safe! It’s cool, no prob, I’m finally master of this inconstant climate crap, thank you very much!
Well, here it is, only January 8th and, friends, I am sorry to have to report that I knocked the blessed lamp over last night and shattered the life-changing bulb. Now this is no ordinary bulb, so my misfortune is something more than having to run down to the corner store to pick up another one for a few bucks. No, the bulb, it turns out, will cost hundreds of dollars to replace and must be special ordered from the manufacturer in Canada, no less (I’m not kidding), and guess what? They are temporarily “out of stock.” When I pressed them on it, oh you know, like WHEN???? would they be able to send me a new one, they reluctantly confessed they were out of stock “indefinitely.”
I think I wandered around the house in a state of mute shock for an hour or more after receiving this information.
Finally, I sat down at my laptop, morose and resigned to my inevitable fate (near terminal bleakness), and desultorily checked my email. And there I found a thread of hope that couldn’t have arrived in a more timely manner. Some outfit had conducted research to discover what people felt was “The Happiest Word.” The happiest word? Oh, really, I thought. Yeah, right. C’mon. Usually these things are bogus and a promo for something. But I clicked on the link anyway like a drowning person grabbing for a rope. Besides, I’m a professional writer and a word-aholic, so I was professionally curious as well.
Sooo…this is what screamed across my computer screen with the force of divine revelation: “The happiest word in the English language is LAUGHTER!”
This simple statement slapped me smack upside the head and knocked the cobwebs right out. For not only am I a writer (novels, short stories, essays), I am to the core a humorist. I love making people laugh (making them happy?) and I write first and foremost to make myself laugh over the foibles of the human race, the ridiculous fixes we get ourselves into, our terrible myopia (which I myself had just demonstrated in spades over the lamp) etcetera ad infinitum. The joke was on me and it straightened me “write” out and pointed me in the right direction to the only real remedy for my “condition.”
I’ll give the last word to Mark Twain, one of my writing heroes, and one whose work has never failed me.
“[Humanity] has unquestionably [only] one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
And to hell with that damn lamp.