A humorous story has it that many years ago a soldier was sentenced to be flogged. As if something hilarious were about to happen, he chuckled as they led him away and laughed uproariously throughout the whipping.
When the painful punishment finally ended, the officer in charge demanded, “What’s so funny about a flogging? I don’t think it’s a joke.”
“Why, the joke’s on you,” smiled the soldier. “I’m the wrong man!”
I know I wouldn't laugh about a flogging, but I'd like to take myself a little less seriously. Like the Amish man who was driving his horse-drawn carriage down a modern American street. The Amish, of course, live and dress simply and shun most modern technology. So he must have known he cut an odd figure on the busy thoroughfare. But he had a sense of humor. Affixed to the back of his carriage was a hand lettered sign that read, “Energy efficient vehicle. Runs on oats and grass. Caution: Do not step on exhaust.”
This man may have taken his beliefs seriously. And he may have taken his work seriously. But he didn’t take himself too seriously. I believe that’s key.
I think that comedian Jimmy Durante got it right. Durante was known for his prominent nose and often referred to it in his comedy sketches. In a moment of seriousness, he once said, “It dawned on me that as long as I could laugh, I was safe from the world; and I have learned since that laughter keeps me safe from myself, too. All of us have schnozzles that are ridiculous in one way or another; if not in our faces, then in our characters, minds or habits. When we admit our schnozzles, instead of defending them, we begin to laugh and the world laughs with us.”
I don’t always have the courage to admit my schnozzles; to laugh at my short-comings. I am something of an expert at hiding them. But I do know one thing: if I want to laugh at my foibles, there is plenty of good material at hand. And I also know that when I get better at it, I’ll find myself living a happier and healthier life.
-- Steve Goodier