Silliness should be prized. I’ve had the good fortune of being raised with it as it’s always been one of my family’s most prized pursuits. None of us are class clowns or cut-ups (I had to marry to add that to the mix) but we love to laugh. We laugh readily & easily as well as good & long, especially when a shared bit of silly is the cause. Of course, it’s not so much the silliness as sharing it that we find infectious. Inside jokes are a constant. Our favorites are ones that don’t require insider information to be laughable so that anyone can join in. It also helps that those don’t require long memories since my maternal Grandma was the only one with a good memory.
“The more you laugh, The more you fill with glee
And the more the glee, The more we’re a merrier we!”
~ I Love To Laugh, “Mary Poppins” ~
What memories she had! One she shared time & again in her later years has become especially dear. When she & her siblings were quite small, one of her brothers would say, “YOU sooo siil-ly!” Grandma not only remembered it but quoted it exactly as that little boy during the Great Depression had said it. Such an appropriate remembrance too for she never would talk much about her childhood struggles; just pointing out that everyone does in one way or another. It was the little things she shared, like those long-ago words of her brother or a cherished doll (so rare amidst such poverty & no doubt the reason she collected dolls throughout her life).
“I have made it a rule of my life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy… you can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing in.”
~ Katherine Mansfield ~
Optimism is a choice. While it does come more naturally for some than others, when paired with our often opposing natural inclinations, it’s a powerful tool. My mum tends to be pessimistic by nature but so childlike in her faith & hope that optimism is the knife she uses to cut her pessimism down to size. It wasn’t until Grandma’s recent death that I fully realized she was a Realistic Optimist just like me although I’d long understood that our souls saw the world in the same way. She considered us soulmates, teaching me early on that true connections are made through the soul & are never limited to romantic relationships.
Our souls are also how we connect to the world. The eyes are considered windows to that one part of us that is wholly unlike anyone else not solely because they allow a glimpse in but more importantly because it’s how we should be looking out. Memories, while precious, aren’t what make us who we are as is typically believed. My own broken brain & fictional explorations like Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” call such common wisdom (as if wisdom is ever common) into question. It’s our souls that define us & our experiences that shape us, regardless of how or if they’re remembered.
“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.”
~ Arnold Bennett ~
Remembrance is simply a journey, along a path the lucky ones hope is true. Our strongest memories are born of our strongest emotions so the mosaic of our life has amazing & horrible moments equally highlighted. It really was the best of times & the worst of times but we choose which we want to build from. Of the numerous things my Grandma imparted to me, by far the most precious was her ability to focus on the good in myself & others. My mum & her parents each provided unconditional love; Granddad accepts people as they are which he passed on to his daughter who wanted me so badly she couldn’t help but love me while Grandma, as she did with everyone, saw all my flaws but never let them keep her from seeing all my potential.
“There is one thing one has to have: either a soul that is cheerful by nature, or a soul made cheerful by work, love, art, and knowledge.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche ~
Disappointment’s a given, hurt an inevitable risk & betrayal a likely eventuality. It’s not just human frailty that keeps things a far cry from perfect, our own circumstances work against us. To live is to live in interesting times. There are no easy fixes or guarantees; luck runs out, loved ones die, we let ourselves & others down, they reciprocate, no amount of hard work or positive thought leads to a particular outcome, goals can only keep you on track & acting on your dreams may not make a damn bit of difference. Letting any of that stop you is the only form of failure that really exists though.
“There are three things in life which are real: God, human folly, and laughter. The first two are beyond our comprehension so we must do what we can with the third.”
~ Indian Proverb ~
Laughter, recovery, love, perseverance; these are just as much a part of the human condition yet must be chosen. Grandma lived with everything listed previously but refused to get stuck in those aspects of life. In my own life, when I came close to not graduating high school, my mum wisely let her mum take over for a time & the truth Grandma consequently explained was the beginning of the beginning for me. She let me know in no uncertain terms that everything I did affected those who loved me & I had no choice in the matter because they would never stop loving me. It’s not that I thought unconditional love was a free pass but I hadn’t sorted the truth. It’s a responsibility.
“Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope too, can be given to one only by other human beings.”
~ Elie Wiesel ~
If we affect others without even trying, imagine the impact we can have on ourselves. The brilliance of my Grandma-given epiphany was that she specifically did not say I was hurting those I love, forcing me to face that the ripples were out of my control. When we’re struggling — be it financially, physically or psychologically — we tend to think we can limit the collateral damage by withdrawing. The reality is that we can’t make progress from that inward stance & those who are invested in us are already along for the ride. Whatever our progress or lack thereof, if we remember we’re not traveling alone, won’t we want to make the most of the trip?
Take life on, take others for who they really are & take in the good while accepting the bad so that you too can live as my Grandma did. Never one to hold back her opinions or not pursue her own interests, she learned to balance those needs with kindness & patience. She may have never gotten to live at the beach but she loved her community & there were things she didn’t accomplish but she whole-heartedly enjoyed the things she did. Always the better reflection of me, she’s put me back on track one final time & will always light my way. I’m used to having two mothers to call on this important holiday; instead, my mum & I will honor the one we shared by living our lives anew & making it a fun journey for all involved.
“What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.”
~ Yiddish Proverb ~
We’ll start with a little silliness..
“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather
[or grandmother] was.”
~ Abraham Lincoln [Grandma's hero, beside Granddad] ~