You cannot take yourself too seriously and expect to have a sense of humor. In order to laugh with others, we must first learn to laugh at ourselves. It is important to perceive our mistakes not as indelible choices object of unrelenting regret, but as signposts of our personal fallibility, leading the way towards greater humility, inner growth, maturity and a more welcoming future. Having a sense of humor is what allows us to read these signposts. Having a sense of humor is what makes a bumpy ride even remotely pleasurable.
But learning to laugh at ourselves in moments of pain is perhaps the greatest challenge in trying times. Seriousness is necessary for appropriate judgment calls, but levity of mind and heart is equally important. It contextualizes the current predicament and provides the hope that tomorrow may bring new joys unrelated to past mistakes. New laughter that only maturity provides, teaching us to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, even after others have forgiven us. This is when we truly learn to laugh with others, by first learning to laugh at ourselves, especially during trying times. This is what I recently learned in my own life.
I once had to choose between a life in a country I loved, and a life with the woman I loved. I chose the woman. I chose poorly. A few words cannot encapsulate the incommensurate pain I endured while striving to preserve a relationship doomed by insensitivity. This would require the vast pages of a tome I am not yet prepared to write for the requisite ink to do so still runs through my veins. One thing is certain. The gregarious zest for lively conversation I once had is gone. Like Lady Macbeth washing a stain that refuses to vanish, I battle memories not effaced by time. In so doing, I stopped laughing with others.
The rare times I find myself in social gatherings, I no longer have any patience for the meaningless banter required by what passes for normal conversation. I feel like an uninvited guest attending a masquerade ball without a costume. I fail to see the point of talking to someone if you cannot be entirely sincere about your thoughts and feelings. This is not companionship as I understand it. This is just another instance of being alone together. Being in the company of others while feeling absolutely alone. Surrounded by socially acceptable lies flying all around you while the truth remains unknown. Openly sharing your thoughts and feelings while others conceal their own. The hardest part of being alone with others is feeling abandoned outside your home. How can I laugh with others, if their jokes are not their own?
To share the company of others, but not to share our lives, is an enormous waste of oxygen, an enormous waste of time. Social gatherings that come and go, having no lasting impact on a person´s life. Days and nights filled with words, all devoured whole by time, leaving no trace in memory, no emotional light. It is hard to laugh with others when jokes are a subterfuge for killing time. I then tried confronting them with the truth, being absolutely sincere about my plight. Not mincing words, not holding back, annihilating all white lies. Talking to complete strangers, as if I had known them all my life, answering every question with the truth, always being upright.
But my sincerity only scared them. Surely, there must be something wrong with someone who foregoes wearing a mask to stepping outside into the light. Showing the scars he has to bear, revealing regrets not left behind. Discussing mistakes of the past, discussing the future for which he fights. Certainly, there must be something wrong with someone who was sick of all the lies. The bullshit sold every day, but only to justify, a life based on mindless competition that leaves everyone blind. Experiences that bear no greater meaning, the pursuit of truth the greatest lie. An existence reduced to numbers, jokes that have no life.
Only then did I understand that to change the world around me, I had to change the world inside. I had no control over the actions of others, but I had control over my perception of life. A friend told me to forgive myself for the mistakes of the past. To stop blaming myself for decisions that were not entirely mine. Taking responsibility for what I could change to set all that was wrong as finally right. I had to learn how to laugh at myself before laughing with others in life. Many times have I asked God for forgiveness, but my personal judgment was never set aside. Learning to laugh in times of pain is now the goal in sight. Regaining my bearings amid a world that still claims as wrong all I so dearly hold inside. A human being never ceases to grow while he remains alive. Tears of sorrow once shed can also be a source of life, experience leads to joy that only humility can provide.