Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Laughing at myself

Ask my daughters and they will be quick to tell you -- I'm not a very funny person.

Okay, so I like to believe I'm funny. In fact, I think I'm so funny I tend to remind people how funny I can be. After saying something I believe to be particularly witty I will often state, "I'm so funny!".

Denial is my middle name. Truth is, being funny is not my natural state of being.

I take life seriously.

Time to find the funny-side of living.

This morning, I've made a commitment. I'm going to write funny for a week. Not funny as in words spelt backwards or bad grammar. No. No. That would never do!

I mean funny a la Robin Williams or that nationally syndicated guy, Barry or whatever his name is who writes a column every week in the newspaper.

Okay, so maybe I've set my sights too high. Maybe I just need to think of funny as in gentle rain falling, not a hailstorm of laughter.

That's it, I'll write as if spring is here and birds are tweeting and the rain is gently falling all around.

Let's see, what was funny about my day yesterday?

Oh. I know. C.C. and I went to listen to his son, T., perform at a band competition. When we walked in a woman waved from the other side of the room. It was C.C.'s former wife. We wandered over and chatted for a moment. She was gracious, vivacious and friendly.

And that was what was funny about last night-- actually it wasn't funny ha ha, it was just really nice. The interaction didn't feel forced, or uncomfortable. It felt relaxed. Calm. Respectful.

We were there to listen to and support a very, very talented young man perform at his best. We weren't there for ego-tripping or into the past dipping.

Watching T. on stage is inspiring. He's comfortable, natural, relaxed. He is a reflection of the love and commitment of his parents to support him and applaud him -- where ever he's at, not based on where they're at.

That's inspiring and refreshing. It also gives me hope.

If I have one regret, a little pit of sadness within me, it is that I am not on friendly terms with Alexis and Liseanne's father. Where at the beginning of our separation (12 years ago) we had dinner once a month with the girls, spent special occassions together and took an annual ski and hiking trip as a family, even after our divorce, our relationship is now based on discord, not harmony.

Not the way I want it to be for my daughters. Not the way I believe they deserve to have their parents interact.

Perhaps if I can find my sense of humour around my lack of relationship with their father, I might be able to find a creative route to building a bridge we can both cross-over.

See, whenever I do run into their father, my anger and sorrow over our inability to find common ground where our daughters are concerned, tends to run before me. A sort of tidal wave of emotion sending out waves of unease like blips on a radar scope tracking a lethal weapon heading towards its target.

I become so intent on connecting, I see him as my 'target' and explode into action while forgetting all about the art of communicating with grace and ease.

Take the recent past where I ran into him at the funeral of a friend's mother. After the service I saw G.M., my daughters' father, standing by himself at the side of the room.

Aha! My mind declared, this an opportune time to corner him to talk about resolving our lack of communication and how it affects our daughters.

Talk about bad timing and misguided direction! The missile of my friendly hello backfired as I promptly followed it with my lame attempt at humour. "Too bad the girls aren't here to see their parents can be in the same room together without fighting."

See, that's what happens when I try to be funny about something that's really serious.

I believe that for children to survive their parents divorce, the adults in the relationship must put their own differences aside and build bridges of understanding not walls of resistance between them.

I worked hard at the beginning of our separation to do that with G.M. I thought I'd succeeded. Unfortunately, I was kidding myself. Living in denial. Walking blindly through his anger, pain, turmoil I didn't stop to ask him -- what do you want? How do you feel? What's your insight into helping our daughters cope with our divorce?

Instead, I acted like I had all the answers. I took action before taking heed of his needs. When he met a woman who was uncomfortable with our relationship, he quickly took up her call to break off all communication. Not because he thought it was the right thing to do (maybe he did). Mostly however, I believe it's because the way we conducted our relationship after the divorce was based on what I wanted. I didn't ask him what he wanted, I told him how it should be. It was a trend that had permeated throughout the fabric of our marriage.

Divorce is a family affair. Regardless of the differences between the adults, however, divorce does not have to destroy the common ground of parenting for the sake of what is best for the children.

And that's what I found refreshing about last night. Whenever C.C. talks about his wife it is with consideration and respect. Last night when we saw her, they greeted each other warmly. She greeted me the same way. When we left, they hugged and we said a friendly good-bye. T.C. came over to the table where the three of us were chatting, gave me a hug and was comfortable with the dynamics of the grouping.

Now that's not funny -- it's awesome.

There was a funny part to the evening too, however! The performer before T.C was a really solid acoustic guitarist, singer, songwriter. He wasn't, however, a comedian, even though he tried at one point to be funny. He told a joke, nobody laughed. He decided to laugh at his not-so-funny joke himself, and the audience laughed with him. See, he said to the room, if you tell a joke and it flops, laugh at yourself and people will laugh with you.

Today, I'm laughing at myself. In taking life so seriously, I often forget to hear the laughter rippling beneath the surface of my focused intent to be all that I am meant to be.

I'm with Halle Barry who said, “Any time you get to laugh at yourself, that's a memorable moment, and that's what I got to do today.”

Gotta get going. Gotta get laughing at myself today. I'm so funny!

The question is: Have you laughed in the mirror today?

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