As I write this, the clock reads 11:37 pm, and it is Friday night. I am sitting in my darkened bedroom, typing as quietly as possible (if that is even a thing), while three dogs snore loudly around me. My husband is asleep beside me. My children have friends sleeping over, and I can hear muted footsteps periodically scurrying above me, and whispered giggles and conversations.
This is life–my life. My kids should have been asleep hours ago. I have told them four times to get to bed, and yet…I normally write my blog posts earlier in the week, but in the midst of life and summer and chaos, here I am writing in the middle of the night (quite happily I might add). I am behind on the bills and the library books are months overdue.
Oh well. In small and big ways, life has a mind of its own, and it is up to us sometimes to either surrender, or resist.
Either way, life wins.
I have decided to make a New Year’s Resolution, here and now on July 29, soon to be July 30 (which is probably a good thing considering I can’t remember my actual New Year’s Resolution). And that is, to laugh more. It sounds simple, but I realize it’s not so simple for me.
By nature and by profession, I think deeply about things. I talk about trauma and death and mental illness and addiction and loss and grief, hour by hour, and those conversations are burned into my psyche and soul. That is a good thing. Those conversations place me in direct contact with the fragile nature of life, and inspire me to live with gratitude and reflection. I turn those reflections into words that I share here, my way of reminding myself not to take anything for granted, and also my way of paying it forward.
But sometimes, there is no way around the fact that psychiatry, well, doctoring in general, is serious work. And I find that slowly, insidiously, when I am not looking, seriousness creeps in to other corners of my life. I find myself being serious while examining expiration dates on the milk jug in the grocery store. Stern while talking to my kids about eating their lunch. I find my brow furrowed while I am driving and singing along to the radio. Clenching my jaw because the kids are still awake and I am delinquent in writing my blog post (yes, the one with the self imposed deadline).
There is a time and a place to be serious, for sure, but grocery shopping is probably not one of them.
Which is why my July 29/30 New Year’s Resolution is to laugh more. Please remind me if you see me walking down the street deep in thought, instead of looking up and marveling at the sky, or smiling at a friend, or noticing the warmth of the sun.
I am not talking about being inauthentic. But like I tell my patients, behavior often generates feeling. Laughing begets happiness, joy. Laughing is a gentle reminder that we don’t need to take life so seriously when life isn’t asking that of us. Laughing is a reminder from the children in our lives, that there is humor to be found even in places where we think it can’t survive.
My hidden, perhaps selfish motive, is that I want my children to remember me as fun. Although I feel I should educate them and teach them Really Important Life Lessons, perhaps all they want and need from me is love and some dancing and sloppy kisses. All of those things feel important when life is easy and when life is hard. After all, I don’t want them to walk through life feeling constantly heavy and pressured, but that is what will happen if I am not conscious of what I am modeling for them.
I wonder if what will keep our relationship green over time is the ability to embrace silly moments, or better yet, embrace each other, even when we are late for school, again. I forget that when I am lost somewhere in yelling about homework and pick up your clothes and did you practice the piano.
I forget that maybe there is a better way, for all of us, to reach the desired destination.
So today, and in the week ahead, I invite you to join me in laughing more. Where in your life is an authentic opportunity to bring forth a little more light? I would love to hear from you.
With gratitude, Monisha