Therapy here, therapy there, therapy, therapy everywhere ...

Therapy here, therapy there, therapy, therapy everywhere …

The following e-mail came last week, part of an ongoing flow of such stuff if you’re ‘net-bound. The amount we receive suggests there’s a crying need for to laughter since the world is no laughing matter.

“Life is short! Break the rules! Forgive quickly! Kiss slowly! Love truly! Laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile!”

Limericks used to make us smile, but they’re gone, it seems. Here’s one:

As a beauty I’m not a great star;

Others are handsomer by far;

But my face – I don’t mind it,

Because I’m behind it;

It’s the folks out in front that I jar!

Bumper stickers are on the way out too, along with bumpers, and even laughter seems to be in trouble. On the all-knowing internet we stumbled onto laughter therapy. Back in the old days, Dino’s wisdom was all the therapy we got: an aptly thrown cup and saucer is cheaper than any other form of therapy.

Introspective Laughology is where laughter therapy is found. Laughercizing is the exercise portion of the therapy. It apparently follows this line of thought: Eye contact, combined with smiling, naturally produces laughter in a relaxed environment. With exercise, your laughter comes easier, gets stronger and lasts longer. The advice continues, telling us that human contact produces hilarity. And get this: One laugh leads to many using the natural principle of contagious laughter.

Not surprising in this era when we study studies to find out if we need a study, the laughologists had one too, a scientific study, which concluded that laughing for 20 minutes has the same benefit as 20 minutes of intense aerobic exercise. That sure beats my dust-covered exercise machine. But we didn’t need laughercizing, we had Jack.

Jack was our bush camp humorist who claimed he got a job with a lumber outfit felling trees back in the ‘50s.

“Where’d you learn to chop down trees?” asked the boss.

“In the Sahara.”

“There’s no trees in the Sahara.”

“Nope,” said Jack, “not now there ain’t.”

He got the job because the guy liked someone with a spontaneous sense of humour.

All this expertise about everything, which is now available on the all knowing ‘net, is all well and good, although Jack was better. He absorbed, remembered and spouted stories better than a tape recorder, and he had the pizzazz machines never do. Most bush camps had need of fellows like that; why, he even remembered graveyard visits, bringing back humour from there too.

Here lies the body of Bob Dent.

He kicked up his heels and to Hell he went.

Jack claimed that’s where he, too, was headed, but none of us would buy that either. An evening with Jack, or his counterpart, had all the elements in the laughology advice, plus an element no one can duplicate – friendship. He’d beat today’s TV comedians hands down; he had no need of bedroom sports events to keep us in stitches. And, in all those years, we never thanked him for his therapy sessions. It was his gift to us. And neither of us knew.

Dare I call it friendship therapy? Anyway, it’s been around a lot longer than the internet, or many of these apparently new forms of therapy, which are popping out of our electronic communications gizmos faster than popcorn coming from a popcorn popper.

Amy Wilson reminded me of another form of therapy in her book No Man Stands Alone. She wrote: “In the vastness and solitude that only the Far North knows, one feels the kinship with all men and living things. Here I learned much about the true brotherhood of man.”

A day in the bush smoothing it, not roughing it, and an evening with a storyteller with that special, indefinable gift of pizzazz, is still the ultimate therapy and it, too, seems to be becoming rare, and more’s the pity, as Grandma always said.

A tip of the hat to Amy Wilson, laughologists, and the various forms of therapy, but a special nod to the best therapy of all: family, friends and that most therapeutic place of all, home!

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