Oscar Wilde once said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” I love this quote because I think that we are entirely surrounded by people who do just that … treat life as if it were something to accomplish instead of enjoy. I’m not naive enough to pretend that we don’t have major responsibilities, I see mine every day: double-sets of bright blue eyes waiting for their mommy to make the right choices, classroom-fulls of students depending on their teacher to know what they need to learn, a house with dust and dirt and endless (ENDLESS) laundry, bills and budgets and bank account numbers that seem way to small. But the truth is, that’s life, and if we cannot learn to laugh at it–at us, we’re in trouble.
Have you ever met people who are painfully shy or nervous? It is like they’re constantly sitting on the edge of pins, uncomfortable inside themselves and doing anything to avoid attention–because attention could lead to mistakes, and mistakes could lead to embarrassment. Well, perhaps I’m being a little too opinionated here, but I say just get embarrassed. Let yourself make that mistake already and get it over with because soon you’ll realize it really isn’t that bad. It’s like William Arthur Ward said, “To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity,” so I guess I must’ve matured early, because I’ve been laughing at myself for as long as I can remember. If you don’t believe me, I’ll give you some good examples as to why.
*I’ve driven over a small tree with a lawnmower.
*I’ve ran into the same pole twice in ten minutes.
*I’ve fallen running up the stairs multiple times (when I wasn’t alone).
*I’ve had a “tail” of toilet paper that a student told me about!
*I’ve spelled many a word wrong in front of my class (and I teach Language Arts).
*I wrestled with my computer bag strap in frustration then dropped it on my foot and broke my own toe! (That was two weeks ago.)
*I’ve called someone on a long list of phone calls to make, forgotten who I was calling as I dialed, and had to ask who it was!
I’ve laughed at myself so many times I have major wrinkles at thirty-one, and you know what? It’s okay. It might be unfair, it might be easier for me because I’ve never really tried being anything but who I am, and sometimes, I admit, that’s a fool. I’m not saying I didn’t try to people-please and blend in and, “be cool,” but after awhile it was so much easier to just smile, joke around and play, that I had to side with joy. I’d love to believe that I could be the kind of woman Jane Austen described in Pride and Prejudice, “She had a lively, playful disposition that delighted in anything ridiculous.” And I think I’m almost there … at least that’s where I’m trying to be.
I feel sorry for anyone who feels like they need to uphold an image of authority, superiority or intimidation. I know too many people who try. I think it makes them feel safe, more respected somehow … but really, I know they’re the one’s missing out. Life is so much lighter when you let go of the burden of taking it too seriously. So think about it, I’m sure you might have buried some of those embarrassing moments deep, but dig them up and give yourself the gift of a giggle. Stop trying so hard to balance and let yourself fall already! And in the words of Groucho Marx, “If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.”