The other day on my walk, a kid around ten years old was cutting the corner over a lawn heading my way. As soon, as SOON as he saw me he held up a three quarters of an old ragged Frisbee while announcing with great enthusiasm, "Look what I found!" I didn't know this kid, never saw him before in my life. "And I have a dog," he added, having unfettered faith that I would know the connection of dog and Frisbee. I loved how he was elated about this less than perfect booty.

Always looking for little stories to illustrate concepts for speaking engagements, I thought "Well, here's one—the uninhibited nature of the kid and how we can all learn about being open, friendly in a childlike way to one another, how we can enthusiastically love what we find."

Then I tried to apply that whole concept to me. I imagined myself finding a ratty old Frisbee and LOUDLY announcing, as soon as I encountered the next random person, "Look what I found!" and then I just started cracking up. I even tried to extrapolate it to buying something and upon seeing the someone I did not know exclaiming LOUDLY "Look at this new purse I got, and I have lipstick!!!!!" I realized the uninhibited and enthusiastic good nature of the child was not what this story was about.

There are some things kids have license to do that we really DON'T get away with as adults, without seeming like we have poor boundaries, have mistaken someone for someone else, or are on drugs. The lesson I had just experienced was about listening to kids for entertainment, laughter and to observe how open they are, to be refreshed by their lack of inhibitions, and graced that we get to be around kids. Kids are little muses. Listen to their take on the world . . . it is amusing and offers relief from glum. You just might have to adjust your hearing aid to the "what can I appreciate about this?" mode.

So this incident "cracked me up." What an expression. What part of us is cracking anyway? Whichever part it is, it is apparently heading "up". Maybe it is this serious adult-laded exterior, resulting from the daily rut masquerading as routine? If we can break-up in laughter regularly, out of the cracks can emerge spontaneity and the fertile ground for humor and new ideas.

How do we crack up? In this case I used a "what if?" and made an amusing associative application. What if I were like this kid and could exclaim something passionately uninhibited to someone who just happens to be walking by? Loose associating a list of different personas without censoring cracks me up. What if in this or that particular situation I were a superhero, a movie critic, a pouty super model, a favorite sit-com star or movie character, e.e. cummings, Dr. Seuss, Scooby-doo, a used car salesman, an eccentric artist who doesn't care what people think, a yankee doodle dandy, a mad person, a disoriented person, a hippie, a nerd, someone paranoid, anal retentive, flamboyant, or child-like?

Here's an exercise in writing, talking out loud or in representing these things in movement or art:
What if you continued with these phrases in free association writing or repeated them with different sentence completions each time? In addition to your own perspective, come from the perspective of one or more of the personas listed above or personas of your own and see how your responses veer into something funny or even creative.
I'm not from here . . . ,
I'm with her . . . ,
I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore . . . ,
I'm new in the neighborhood . . . ,
If I only had a brain . . . ,
If I could read your mind, love . . . ,
If a face could launch a thousand ships . . . ,
If the world should stop revolving . . . ,
If a man/woman could be two places at one time . . . ,
I could do anything if I only . . . ,

From each of these personas comes a new way to look at things that might spar a brilliant idea or simply might just crack you up.

Laughter, merriment, mirth and amusement are fringe benefits of being alive. They are what delight is made of, and believe it or not, in serious journals of medicine, humor is cited as one of the most effective coping skills we mortals have. Prescription: crack up regularly and put yourself back together a little more relaxed, with different perspectives, and with an enlivened mind.



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