So, I hear your life is falling apart? Join the club. Got no work? Losing your house? Hiding from the repo guy? Bank sending threatening notices about foreclosure? Oops. Life’s a bitch. Disaster is life’s way of reminding you that you are at the mercy of forces beyond your control. You might as well laugh because crying all the time annoys people.
My life has collapsed 3 times. The first was more or less voluntary. I gave up on a marriage that wasn’t working, gave all my stuff to my soon-to-be ex (big mistake), and moved to Israel where I promptly married a guy so much worse than the one I’d left it still makes my head spin more than 30 years later. What was I thinking? Was I thinking?
Of course that marriage fell apart too … it lasted a lot longer than it ought to have because I was too proud to admit what a horrible mistake it had been in the first place. Staggering, head reeling, bloody, dazed and penniless, I came back to the USA. It took a couple of years to stop feeling like I’d been run through a wood chipper, but when I got up off the floor, I married Garry. Amazingly, it’s fine. Exceptional. I’m unsure what it proves except that I should have married Garry in the first place. We’d both have been spared a lot of angst.
Tales of awful mistakes and even more horrendous outcomes make terrific after dinner conversation. A few drinks can transform them into hilarious. The stuff that fuels humor is not funny. Human misery, errors and disasters are the stuff of jokes.
Funny movies aren’t about people having fun: they are about people in trouble, with everything going wrong, a life in ruins. The difference between a comedy and a tragedy is that everyone does not die at the end of a comedy, but tragedies usually end with a pile of corpses. Otherwise, it’s just style.
Funny stories weren’t funny when they happened. Now, well, yeah, they’re funny. After I was told I had cancer in not one, but both breasts (they were having a two-for-one special at the Dana-Farber), I had them removed and replaced by silicon Hollywood quality implants, but stopped short of adding fake nipples. Previous surgeries had left me with no naval, so without either a naval or nipples, I have come to believe I am no longer human. Aliens walk the earth and I am one. I own tee shirts that say “Yes, they are FAKE. My real ones tried to kill me.” It makes people laugh. It’s the high point of my cancer experience.
People divide neatly when your life collapses. A lot of people disappear, as if whatever is wrong with you might be contagious. Or else, they offer you everything they have, even when it’s barely more than you’ve got. Stick with the latter. It’s the people who have the least who will offer you everything they have. Jesus had a point about rich people.
A lot of folks that were sort of friends eye you with suspicion and dread, but also with a subtle hint, a light whiff, of satisfaction. They’d never be rude enough to say so, but they are so glad it’s your world rather than theirs that’s gone to Hell. Sorry about your life, really. Furtive grin.
If you are a writer, you will are awarded one novel or a good book of short stories from the train wreck of your life.
And speaking of trains. Don’t take it personally. The locomotive that ran over you wasn’t after you. You were just a bump on the tracks. Oops.
We are all collateral damage in the movie of life. Prepare some clever repartee for the next get together with your more successful pals. Don’t think there’s nothing to look forward to. Now that you are in bloody pieces on the floor, you can really appreciate the irony when their lives turn to rubble.
You will stop bleeding sooner or later. The depression will ebb, that feeling that you are being crushed to death and can’t breathe will be replaced by a generalized and permanent sense of panic, which I call “normal.”
That’s when you can start laughing because tragedy is ridiculous. Hilarious. Heaven must be dull because in Hell, everyone is laughing.