One of my favourite poets once said the wound is the place where the light enters you. Surely, inspired by Rumi, another of my favourite poets, Leonard Cohen in his Anthem song states there is a crack in everything, that is where the light gets in. And while I do not dispute two of my esteemed wise wordsmiths, I would like to add laugh and let the light in.
We’ve all heard the expression laughter is the best medicine. And we can all agree it feels good to laugh. Especially those full belly laughs that are cleansing and refreshing as a warm shower on a cold morning. With it feeling so uplifting, it is a wonder we do not laugh more often.
Growing up, I did not find it easy to laugh. As a child, I was rather serious. Although I felt happiness, I seemed to have a difficult time looking at life with humour and connecting to the rapturous joy that comes with this space. I can still hear my mom’s voice in my head “Janelle stop taking yourself so seriously.”
I knew at a young age life had its challenges, that is was not always full of ease and joy, that is was serious business. I seemed to adopt this as a belief system as I moved through childhood and adolescence and not surprisingly it has spilled into my adulthood. I have had to unlearn this pattern and open myself to laughter, playfulness and joy. As I did, it has proved to be one of the most healing things I have done. I now realize it is my true nature, it is who I am.
In this past year, though where pain, darkness and grief abounded, where I have felt the wounds, the cracks and the uncertainty, I returned to my default setting - life is serious business, rote with difficulty, and fucking hard sometimes. I’ve had to let go of relationships and feel unexpected change in others. I’ve had to watch my cousin lose his 9 year old son and feel the sorrow and questioning that followed.
I saw my role in how I unconsciously caused pain to others and witnessed the shadow side of those I love. I have moved through intense internal shifts as I dove into my professional Shamanism training that at times left me questioning what on earth I was doing. With the many challenges that happened in a short time span, it would be easy to focus solely on the negative. To feel weighted down and sink into despair. To stay stuck in the wounded and hurt places. And for awhile I did.
However, when I reflect on the year, I am reminded also of the many beautiful and joyful moments I have had. The numerous shared belly laughs with friends, family and even strangers (see A Boy Named Carl, What Inspires Me Today) that brought immense lightness and a space of wonderful connection.
Like Rumi and Leonard Cohen eloquently stated, recognizing and owning our wounds can be an opening to compassion, to love and ultimately to the light that resides in us all. It is comforting to know that so too can connecting to joy and humour. Going through life’s difficulties and painful lessons, I recognize it is not always easy to laugh. Nor should humour be a means to avoid feeling the challenging emotions we all need to move through at times.
As a child who grew up with a serious nature, who did not laugh often, I now see the many benefits of humour and laughter. The liberating feeling of just letting it all go, exuberantly laughing out loud, and not minding what other people think. The feeling of exhilaration while surrendering to the present moment.
If there is one constant reminder I seem to get, it is this: laugh and let the light in. Laughter is a way of connecting, releasing, and healing. It allows us to take ourselves and life less seriously. It creates waves of joy rippling through our body, mind, and spirit. It is medicine. And one I plan to use frequently.