For those of you that know me personally, you know I like to laugh and find the humor in things. Whether it’s making fun of myself or laughing at you, if it’s funny, I’m going to enjoy it and point out the humor. Sometimes things are funny, even if they are unflattering or embarrassing to the person who is the object of the humor. We’ve all been there. We’ve all laughed at someone that has fallen down and we’ve been laughed at for doing the same.
This was a topic of discussion recently on a morning radio talk show that I like to listen to, The Rick and Bubba Show. Apparently, a picture of a woman that fell out of her scooter at a Wal-Mart was seen all over the internet. I’m not sure if it’s one I’ve seen or not, but I’ve seen plenty of “People of Wal-Mart” memes on social media. And to be honest, some of them are pretty damn funny. What seemed to be different about this one, according to Rick and Bubba, was that the woman, whose face was not visible in the photo, was distraught and embarrassed by the photo. The only reason anyone knows who that woman was in the photo, was because she came out publicly to whine about it and say that it’s made her life miserable. (You can check out Rick and Bubba at http://www.rickandbubba.com).
How many actors or comedians have made a living off the kind of physical humor like falling down, tripping, bumping his head? A lot of them. When Chevy Chase opens the attic stairs in “Christmas Vacation” and they crash into his face and he falls to the floor, that’s funny. It’s supposed to be funny. So, why is something in real life that is the same thing not funny to some people? Of course, provided no one is seriously injured. The woman that fell out of her scooter was not injured, except for her pride. So, maybe it was funny. It probably was.
During some training at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, about 6 years ago, one of the soldiers in my tent fell out of his top bunk after he had fallen asleep. I could see his silhouette in the darkness as he stood straight up after hitting the ground. I asked, “Did you roll out of your bunk asleep or did you fall trying to get down?” He responded in a groggy, confused voice as he tried to piece it all together, “I’m not sure.” Ladies and gentlemen, that was funny. I still laugh at that today. Because it was funny.
Picture this: We’re in Iraq, 2009, our last day, getting ready to load up and head south to start our trip home. To say we were all excited is understatement. One fellow soldier was a little too excited and while doing something with his weapon, smacked himself in the face with the stock of his M-4. It was bad enough that he was bleeding all over the place. Our “Doc” fixed him up and made sure he didn’t need stitches. But to add insult to injury, Doc put a Smurf Band-Aid over the cut when he was done tending the wound. That’s freaking hilarious. A combat veteran wearing a child’s Band-Aid on his face. I took video of the job Doc did on fixing him up, narrating the whole time and asking the guy if he was going to put in for the Purple Heart. He was a good sport. He was laughing and making fun of himself as well. Which was good, because all the rest of us gave him hell. Because it was funny.
What’s the difference between the examples above? What causes us to react to embarrassment in different ways? Here’s a couple of times I fell down and looked like an idiot. In Iraq, I was coming down the steps at the chapel, moving swiftly. I was in full gear. I lost my footing and took a nose-dive. I managed to fall gracefully by rolling and coming right back up to my feet still in stride. As I passed a soldier sitting outside the chapel I quipped, “that’s was pretty good, huh?” I was smiling and chuckling at myself. In my mind I did perfect combat roll, but I’m sure in reality I looked like a clumsy fool. But I laughed. Because it was funny.
In contrasts, not long after I got back from Afghanistan, I was walking through my front door and our dog at the time charged at me and laid me flat out on the ground, escaping the house. The dog then jumped the fence and ran loose in the neighborhood. I was fuming. I was beyond mad and could have strangled that dog had I got my hands on it. Just to be honest, if I had watch that happen to you I would be laughing my butt off. Because it would have been funny.
Here’s the difference. It was my mindset. It was not that I had fallen. I don’t mind being embarrassed by my clumsiness, especially if it’s funny. I make plenty fun of myself when I can. And I will laugh at you from time to time as well. But I had fallen in life. My mind was not right. My confidence and self-esteem were at all-time lows. The reality I was projecting for myself was a façade because I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on in my head. It was my view of my life and the strange things happening in my mind that I hated, and that bled over into how I reacted to things.
It was still funny that the dog bowled me over, just not to me that day. I try to see the humor in things and make the best of most situations, even if I’m the butt of the joke. I invite you to laugh at me if you see me fall off a ladder, stub my toe, or walk into a closed door. And I promise I will laugh at you as well. But if you fall down in life, I will do my best to encourage and lift you back up. I hope you will do the same for me. Thanks for reading this week. Good day, God bless.