Laughter is Unity

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.– Kurt Vonnegut

Last week our theme was laughter and the unified response surprised me. It is fair that asking anyone to write a funny story is putting her on the spot. We didn’t have a great deal of them and we’ve all told a hundred funny stories in group so our writing circle is not absent of laughter with or without a prompt.

The women mostly focused on the nature of laughter – what it means to laugh inside, the quality of laughter, the release and freedom of laughter, and its power to unify. Many described the shelter of laughter particularly in relationship with one another. One woman said, “I have not laughed as I have amongst these women.” Another said, “Laughter has always been my escape.”

In writing, we support sadness. We support weeping. We support the great unheard wails that would rattle the bars if they were let loose. And finally, we support laughter. One of the women said, “As a recovering addict, a lot of my life has been serious.” What recovery is possible in the shared space we make through laughter? How can we attend to the whole human in one another by the laughing together that is so needed?

Below, you’ll find the found poem created with this in mind:


How I get by unfriendly shores:
I laugh until I cry, laugh in happiness,
laughter that hurts, that becomes silent
because you cannot take one more breath.

My humor is sarcastic, that laugh
from the bottom of your stomach
the one you cannot explain, can’t control.
At times I even wonder how I do it.

I would like to see it flooding
between the divide, a surge of survival
behavior arising, awkward and fresh,
a simple action between two human lives.

I can relax. I can laugh at myself,
peel into hyena laughs, burn out of my life.
Laughter is a universal language.
Laughter is contagious.

Laughter is unity.
Laughter is the courage within.
Laugh until I cry, cry until I laugh,
the best things happen when you’re not trying,

confident that there is still good in this world.
This is the truth we’re talking about:
deep, loud laughter. The story itself smiles,
Knock, knock.