Laughing is my favorite thing to do. While this world, and all that comes with it, can make it difficult to find humor in the day-to-day operations of living, the beauty of laughter is that sometimes it appears out of nowhere. For some unknown reason, this is especially true when laughter is completely inappropriate, like in the middle of church. I can't tell you the number of times I would get tickled in church as a young girl, sitting between my mother and father, struggling to stifle my giggles. The more I would try to stop, the more I would laugh. Occasionally, it became so comical that even Mom and Dad would start laughing, too, in spite of giving me the evil eye and a pinch on my leg.
Recently, I was at a women's retreat and humor struck me at the wrong time. I was in a beautiful, large room at The Sanctuary Resort on Kiawah Island with 19 other women. (Just the fact that it's named The Sanctuary alludes to the fact that outbursts of laughter may be disturbing.) Retreats are always emotional, revealing and sometimes raw. We had just returned from lunch, and the leader opened our afternoon session with a guided meditation from Deepak Chopra (on CD).
I have to admit I have never settled into the art of meditating. My mind goes all over the place, I open my eyes to peek, and I can't keep my thumb and middle finger touching for the energy to cycle through. You get the gist. I'm a mess when it comes to sitting still and doing nothing.especially when I have to think about thinking about nothing.
I was struggling to get through the seven-minute, excruciatingly long meditation without doodling or something, when Deepak started a Sanskrit mantra. I'm sure this mantra meant something beautiful and deep like "peace dwell within you," but as he said it over and over, it began sounding obscene to me. It sounded like he was saying, "Suck. S#*t. Na, na, na." After about the fourth time, I got so tickled I could not hold back my laughter. Obviously, my thumb and middle finger had departed from each other because I had to put one hand over my mouth to try to keep my snickering at bay.
Of course the women at my table were now peeking, too. They were looking at me to see if I had lost my mind. The lady next to me placed her hand gently on my thigh.ahh, just like my mother. That means settle down now or I'm going to have to take you out. In a desperate attempt to not have to excuse myself from the room, I settled my giggles into a giant smile, and turned my thoughts away from Deepak's Sanskrit and to my Southern roots.
I began to think that Southern women don't meditate, nor do we speak Sanskrit. Then it dawned on me, we do sit in a porch swing, swaying to and fro, listening to the rhythmic, low screech of the chain rub against the eyehook that securely keeps the swing suspended. And while we sit there, either alone or with another female (I don't ever recall sitting in the swing with a man), we think. We talk. Sometimes we cry. We talk about life-where it is now and where we want it to go. We talk about problems. We decide if the problems are fixable, or maybe not that much of a problem, afterall. And more times than not, we get tickled. Sometimes we laugh to keep from crying. Sometimes we laugh because life can be just plain funny. The cool thing about the porch swing, though, is that laughter doesn't have to be held back-it is one place where it is always welcome.
I want to dedicate this issue of Pink Magazine to Missy Benson Hartley, my cousin and lifelong best friend. She recently lost her husband to brain cancer. We were in each other's weddings. I can't think of sitting in a porch swing without thinking of her. She and I have spent countless hours together, all our lives, swinging and talking. We have grown from little girls who giggled about childhood crushes and shared our innermost dreams with each other, to college crazies, to having children of our own, to now, when I stood beside her to bury her husband. We have many more dreams ahead of us.and I know we will gather on the porch swing soon to make sure they all come true. I love you, Missy.