Saturday, May 18, 2013

those who love are not lunatics

Pride and Prejudice is not one of Ann Radcliffe’s melodramatic gothic novellas or (anachronistically speaking) a Brontëan escapade through the dark, twisted secrets of the eccentric country gentry. 
This is not a story filled with larger-than-life Romance, and Heathcliffs skulking across the moors, and most importantly—love conflicting with rationality.
In Pride and Prejudice, love is not the result of chance or overweening passion; happy love is the result of a harmonious action of virtue, sensibility and rationality.
Laughter, like love, can be foolish and vain, or it can be happy and virtuous. Laughter, Lizzie finds, can cut down a person's self-regard, or it can elevate one to tip-toe type euphoria.
Wise laughter can give perspective, can win suitors, can make the best of a tragic situation.
Laughter, like love, can be salvific.


Recently, one of my favoritest writers in the whole wide world posted something beautiful on her blog. It is the story of her tedious, year-ish long journey through depression. It is a beautiful and raw post, irreverently funny, and one hundred percent delightful. You should probably read it. Here ya go.

Usually, this author writes things about her childhood escapades. Like this one, about her need to eat all of her grandfather's birthday cake, despite her poor mother's attempts to keep the cake out of her reach.
The six-year-old in me identifies deeply with her unflagging and unquenchable desire to climb things [see yesterday's post]. 
I resonate with her determination to kick through window screens in order to achieve her goal: eat mind-numbingly large amounts of sugar.

These posts of hers have me rolling on the floor in fits of laugher.
And that is not a hyperbole at all.
I sometimes actually frighten myself at how heartily her words make me laugh.

I am blessed with some emotional friends.
Friends who have a lot of feelings.
Because I am insufferable, I will often tease them (mockery is the sincerest form of affection, I've been told) regarding the amount of tears shed, which sometimes seem like they would be enough to fill the entire Indian Ocean and then some.
I always joke that I'll be able to out-cry the weepiest of them once pregnancy rolls around, because I assume the hormones that will kick in will be something like performance enhancing drugs for my lacrimal glands.

All this jesting has a kernel of truth in it (I promise we'll get to it eventually).
Emotions are such an integral part of our interaction with our world, and our ability to make sense of it.
Yet for some frustrating and enigmatic reason, emotions are entirely outside of our control (which gets right to the point of the Hyperbole and a Half post).
If we were fully human, not bent, not broken by a fall, then our emotions and our will would be in perfect harmony.
That which is good would fill us up with the sweetest joy; and any ugliness or illness would be met with our supreme disgust.
But for some reason, our emotions have been crippled, and there is something in us that is out of joint.
Emotions dry up without any warning, or burst forth without or prompting.
Feelings--of happiness, sadness, pain, etc., cannot be our deepest interactions with the world.
That would be like trying to build a skyscraper on a sand dune (spoiler alert: that would be a major oops).
And they cannot be our guideposts: that would be like following a trail of breadcrumbs (cf my good friends Hansel and Gretel).
But what lifts this woman--if only for a moment--out of the blahness and bleakness of her senseless crying, is laughter.
Seemingly just as causeless as the crying, her laughter replaces a little bit of the grey with light.
I don't know how emotions work, but I don't think laughter is an emotion.
Laughter is an action, a response to something, but I've never quite figured out what.
As we sat for a solid four hours in the Heathrow Airport, on our way out of London, we spent at least a good solid hour sitting in a heap of airport chairs and excess luggage, laughing like a bunch of loonies.

I think our laughter made just as much sense as laughing at a piece of shriveled corn on a kitchen floor.
But there was something divine about it--our souls felt lighter after laughing.

"You will grieve, but your grief will become joy."
--Christ, to his Apostles, whose apocryphal laughing fits were never recorded in the Gospels.

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