What Was So Funny?

I carry something precious deep inside me but I cannot access it. I possess an absolute treasure-trove that sparkles and glows somewhere just out of reach. I think you possess it, too. You have the same rich history of hilarious moments, of riotous, watery-eyed laughter. I’ve laughed so hard in my life, and the euphoria was so audacious, that I’ve even had to fall to the floor because of the instability.

But what was so funny? What were those things that caused this euphoric seizure? That’s what’s so frustrating. The hilarious source of those moments, with some exceptions, I often cannot remember. I might know the laughter resulted from something someone said, but I struggle to remember what that was. I might remember the context, the weather, or what we were wearing when the avalanche of giggling struck. But the humorous details, the triggers themselves, I often cannot access.

At the same time, though, I remember in great, gargantuan detail all of the episodes that have caused me suffering and grief. Why do we remember so vividly the details of the things that cause us pain, but are unable to capture the details that bring us elation? Just try to make a list of the things you’ve laughed really hard at. It’s not so easy. But a grief list comes to mind in a flash (it practically writes itself). It’s sad because sometimes I could really use, at my command, a good laugh now-and-then: to be able to recall those moments, specifically the details that triggered the great humor in those moments, would be so valuable. But, lo, I often cannot conjure the magic.

Why is this? Why are moments of humor harder to recall than moments of suffering? Is it because of plastic in our oceans? Chlorinated water? Is this an inevitable artifact of a fallen world? Is God sadistic or something?

No, God is not sadistic. Before we start questioning our faith, experimenting with opiates, or turning to Dr. Phil, consider a more positive spin on it all: maybe we remember our grief and suffering so vividly so that we can learn from it and avoid future grief and suffering. We forget the things that make us laugh so that, when the same type of situation or joke occurs again, we can experience it with the same surprise and hilarity that we experienced it the first time.

In other words: God is good, and so is his design for humor.

Dan Kent