By Steve Cichon
Sometimes when I see something whimsical or beautiful or absurd some deep part of me which I don’t control laughs.
Technically some kind of chuckle with squinted eyes and a wide grin, the laugh is a release of joy.
It’s also weird.
Laughter, where it doesn’t belong is a red flag and catches me plenty of strange looks and people slowly taking a step or two away.
Believe me, I see the looks— I’m not that far gone. But I know in reality, they are the ones far gone.
More people would laugh in more situations like the ones I do, I think, but society has tortured us into constraining our emotions. Or to be to busy to feel them. Or to feel shame for feeling them.
Admittedly, I wasn’t always on the right side of this story.
As a little little boy, I remember wondering what the hell Grandma Cichon was laughing at.
It was usually dogs or kids or nature, and I didn’t get it. And sometimes, if something I did that was the cause of the laughter— and I wasn’t feeling funny— I might get quietly mad or upset.
But for her own sake, Grandma— the mother of 11– who had lived a life filled with more than her fair share of poverty and relentless hard work and tragedy— she had to take the joy where she could find it. And she did.
So when I laugh when I see a toddler cry or a puppy hurting herself trying to carry a stick three times her own size— it’s not that I find humor in it— it’s that I’m filled with joy.
Joyful that the confidence-filled puppy just took a step in learning about sticks and life.
Joyful that the three-year-old, whose life is as perfect as it’s ever going to be— cries for whatever silly reason makes the poor inconsolable little person cry.
There’s kindness and love in my eyes when I laugh— I promise— even if you can’t see it. I can only hope for your sake the world’s sake— that some day you might laugh, too.
That has to be the thought that Grandma Cichon had, too— when she sensed that little Stevie didn’t understand the laughter.
Sometimes, when I think about it, I wish I could hear Grandma’s breathy, dry little cackle again.
But then I realize I do hear it every time in my own laugh– which makes me laugh.