The flavor of the day seems to be pensiveness. Possibly sleep deprivation – I got a little less (don’t ask how less) sleep than my body needs, and my brain is responding by spiralling into thoughts that won’t slow down no matter how mindful I try to be of them.
It started at the temple this morning. Having completed my morning chores early and home alone, with no pressing deadlines, I walked to the neighbourhood temple. As I was perambulating the altar, I heard laughter like, as the cliché goes, a gurgling brook. I shamelessly turned to see a middle aged woman (my age +/- 5 years), sitting with a man (probably husband, but like I said, she was laughing, think what you will), eyes watering with mirth, holding her stomach and shaking uncontrollably. Unbridled mirth. I was dying to know what was so funny in what he said that made her laugh so, unmindful of where she was and who was around.
I belong to a funny family myself. My father has a wry sense of humour, some of which he passed on to me (I hope). My husband is hilarious with words and puns. My daughter has humour that surpasses her age, and thus often alienates her from her peers who don’t get it. All three of them (dad, husband, kid) make me laugh a lot – I love humour, Wodehouse is my all-time favourite. I get and crack all kinds of jokes, from the banal to the risqué. But my laughs are momentary. There is an upsurge of the pleasant feeling, which is spent within a moment as a snort or chuckle, and comes back to ground state. I can count the number of times I have laughed uncontrollably, on one hand – most of it has been with my friend L, and we are usually talking about the travails of having a uterus. Come to think of it, those are the times that I have chosen to off-load some daily life frustration or pain or upheaval to her, so perhaps it is a defense mechanism to lift the load off my chest.
When I heard and saw the woman in the temple laugh, I realised that it has been so long since I have laughed like that – the kind that when you are done, your stomach is bunched , your voice is hoarse, your throat is sore and head, light. And it has not been because of lack of the daily life frustration or pain or upheaval from which I need that defense, because as long as there is life, and there is a brain in my head, it is going to frustrate me, cause me pain and upheave. I was jealous of her, not just because she laughed like that, but because she was so comfortable in her skin that she could be herself in a public place, unfettered by consciousness of those around. I have not felt that in a long time. Perhaps never.
Have I become the stuffy ol’ woman who takes herself too seriously?
Or am I just sleep deprived today?