LOL…or not

06 Dec

On a recent trip to Nashville, I had the ridiculously fun opportunity to catch up with Jessica Dotta – and, boy, were we in for a thought-provoking experience.

(Jessica was the first person I hired into Glass Road, over 8 years ago. She worked at GR for about a year, then took a position to help another ministry grow. I hired her back when GR expanded and she brought her indefatigable spirit and staunch work ethic to bear. A year later, this brave soul decided to focus full time on her writing. Now, my incredibly talented friend is a published novelist with Tyndale whose first release is going gangbusters.)

It’s been over a year since we talked and I was excited to hear about Jessica’s book release, share with her about the big announcements coming up in my world (yes, the announcements are coming!), and just enjoy each other’s company again. We met at my hotel for breakfast.

As we laughed and shared stories and fell into that camaraderie that is forged in the trenches and always picks up right where it left off, the minutes flew by. I think I’d just told her about the strange looks I garner at the gym because I laugh out loud while watching “Friends” and running (I go to the quietest gym on the planet – it’s eerie) when a gentleman with thinning gray hair, round glasses, loose cardigan and slacks pulled up a bit too high, approached our table.

old2-man-cardiganHe stood there a moment, cleared his throat, and said, “Ladies, I had to come over here.” I prepared to be asked to quiet down (we were loud). The man clasped his hands in front of him. He looked toward the floor. He shook his head slightly and shrugged. He seemed to be trying to get control of his emotions and I wondered if Jess’s storytelling brain was going at mach speed with mine to envision a tale that would necessitate this poor older man being in such a state. We’d been discussing our faith pretty openly, too, so maybe he needed prayer? Jesus? A glass of water?

He raised his head and looked at each of us. “I had to come over and tell you how much we have enjoyed listening to you laugh. It’s just so good to hear girls your age laughing and talking like you’re doing.”

Relief at him being okay and us not being reprimanded for our volume flooded through me and I saw a grin on Jess’s face that probably mirrored mine. The man went back to his seat and Jess and I continued catching up.

A2rrrrggghhhAnother 10-15 minutes passed and here came another older gentleman. Again, he stood at the end of our table. This one appeared a bit more gruff…serious look on his face but a twinkle in his eye. Mr. No Nonsense. We ceased our chatter and looked toward him.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, ladies, but I wanted to tell you that I’ve loved listening to you two laugh. To hear your happiness in the room. It’s good to hear laughter again.”

As he went away, that last word echoed in my soul. I turned toward Jess. “Hey, he’s right. When did the laughter die?

2012-10-11 21.50.43That was three days ago and I’ve since had 14 hours of driving alone in the car to ruminate. I checked with friends of several generations and they echoed the idea – we don’t hear laughter like we did a few years ago. When we do hear it, it’s canned on TV. We walk into restaurants and there isn’t a hum of happy people talking. We walk down streets and see people, but don’t hear joy. A pall has settled on us.

Now, here’s the thing: in the second (maybe third – my memory ain’t what she used to be) year of “Grey’s Anatomy” (this was when “Private Practice” came on after it), I remember Meredith and Christina asking each other if they were happy. In the “Private Practice” episode afterward, the same question arose. I remember wondering why they seemed to be valuing “happiness” as the ultimate life goal…and assuming they’d find it primarily in whomever they slept with.

happy-faceWe hear it everywhere now. Parents just want their children to “be happy”. Spouses leave their spouses because they “just want to be happy” or “deserve some happiness”. Ads and therapists alike hound us women to get manis, pedis, massages, and facials so that we can take care of our “happiness” because, if we don’t, we can’t make anyone else happy.

Good grief, even pet stores are telling us to buy all kinds of toys and treats to make the darn dog happy. (Ours is good if I scratch his ears just-so, which is free, so he gets it a lot.)

Yet, despite all this attention on chasing happiness, it appears that we’ve become a people who smile and laugh less.

I’m pretty sure that’s because we’re worshiping at the altar of self and, ultimately, we make for pretty crappy gods. We’re way too fickle to be masters of the universe.

Today’s “happy” means managing to stay within my calorie allotment. Tomorrow’s is a donut … or two.

I’d love to hear if you’re experiencing this in your neck of the woods. Do you hear people laughing, see them smiling, as much as you did ten years ago? If not, why not?


Posted by on December 6, 2013 in The Misc Bucket


3 responses to “LOL…or not

  1. Judy

    December 6, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Meeting with friends the other day, I noticed our little table laughed, a lot. We always do. We are often stared at. Some people frown. Some smile. I don’t notice a difference in others. I have noticed a difference in myself. I laugh more. I’ve finally figured out that happiness really and truly is an inside job. I decide, and I am accepting personal responsibility for doing the job. Personal responsibility is not a popular concept right now.

  2. Denny Brownlee

    December 8, 2013 at 2:18 am

    Laughter is music to me. I love nothing more than provoking someone to make that sound. But yes, it seems that laughter has been replaced by simply being “positive and encouraging.” As if the best we can hope for is a meager smile amidst the dour depressing existence that is… Even music constantly reminds us how tough life is, and sometimes points to hope – but rarely to unabashed raucous laughter! I want to change that!

  3. Anne Payne

    April 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I came over to check out your blog after reading your most recent article in the April issue of Book Fun Magazine. You sure gave me a laugh with “we make for pretty crappy gods” phrase. You are so right. The laughter, real laughter, has died. When my family and I go out we get stared at and frowned upon because we are a pretty funny bunch 😉 There’s always lots of laughter and cutting up with our teen boys. They keep us in stitches. But then, none of us are on our smart phones in a restaurant or while walking down the aisle of the grocery store or standing in line at the movies. In fact, we don’t have any smart phones yet. Maybe our laughter will die if or when we get one but until then….laugh on!

    (I don’t have anything against smart phones or any techie gadgets. I’ve just noticed that when we’re in any of these places I mentioned, most people are barely communicating with their companions because they are so focused on whatever is happening on their phones.)

    BTW, I absolutely loved both of your articles! Crushed brought tears to my eyes. And then I read 26 Hours a Day and cried again.


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