Monday, January 14, 2008

Laughter. Smiles. Kimchi.

"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

When I'm with my friends, I laugh. A lot. I was thinking about this yesterday on my drive home from hiking in the White Mountains. It got me wondering about the definition of the word, "laugh". The whole idea of laughing is pretty complex when you think about it for more than a few seconds. I looked it up in the dictionary.
Laugh-verb intransitive-1 a: to show emotion (as mirth, joy, or scorn) with a chuckle or explosive vocal sound
While that definition certainly isn't wrong, it sure is boring.

My favorite laughter is the unexpected kind. The off-hand comment or play on words that cracks everybody up during a conversation. Spontaneous goofiness- the kind practiced mostly by children-often sparks unexpected laughter. Some adults are able to reclaim this lost art and deploy it effectively. I love the laughter that comes from telling embarrassing personal stories with enthusiastic abandon. Shared laughter bonds people in much the same way as shared tears. Not all people will laugh at the same things. Not all people will cry for the same reasons. When you find people who join you in laughter or tears you call them friends.

It was a long drive home and I had lots of time. I finished thinking about laughter and moved on to smiles. I want you to try this. Start with one person in your mind-your favorite person, let's say. (It's okay to have a favorite person and it's okay if it changes from time to time.) Now, I want you to picture that person smiling. Not just a half-assed smile, but one that lights up the eyes, makes them glow. Picture every detail you can about the person's smile-the life that springs up in the face, the crows feet, how much of the teeth you see. If there's laughter involved, how does it sound? How does the person hold her head? Savor this image in your mind. Now do the same thing for someone else. Then do it again. This is what I did yesterday on my drive home from the mountains. If I know you in person, I probably spent some time thinking about you smiling. I'm not kidding. I was astonished by how much joy this simple activity brought me, how much beauty I saw in people's faces. It was impossible for me to keep from smiling in response.

I'm going to spend time this week paying attention to strangers laughing and smiling. Maybe the world will feel a little more beautiful to me. That wouldn't be a bad thing.

On the lighter side...Oh my Imaginary God Type Thingy(credit to Adrian for that phrase) I am in love with Kimchi!

Between all your smiling faces floating around in my head and the kimchi in my belly, I'm one happy girl. As long as the two don't get mixed up together, I should be fine.


  1. So i was at the Korean store yesterday and I think you are ready to graduate to the industrial size Kimchi containers.

  2. "Laughter, Smiles, and Kimchee" huh? Well, apparently you've forgotten how well those three things go together.

    Remember, Arrin/Ela were telling us that in Korea, photographers ask you to say "Kimchee" instead of "cheese" when getting you to smile.

    So, this blog entry about smiles that then ended with the apparent non sequitor about Kimchee was actually very relevant.

    So, if you're feeling frumpy grumpy, just saying "Kimchee!" should literally put a smile on your face.