I want to go back to something in the Zombiism post on which I had intended to elaborate but abandoned because the post seemed to be growing at rate indicative of exposure to Gamma radiation. Before I launched into my dissertation on the effects of Propanolol, I qualified my experience by saying that I am “largely” emotionally numb. It’s that qualification that I want to expound upon now.
I’m not emotionless all the time. For some moments and, sometimes, whole days, I feel more like myself. Emotion is still veiled by my slow-processing brain and a complete lack of intensity, but it’s present and felt. I haven’t figured out yet if these are random or if there’s a recipe for them (like go to bed early, wake up at a certain time, eat certain things), but maybe I’ll stumble across a pattern and make life easier for myself. In the meantime, I’ll just those moments as blessings.
But there is one emotional repsonse that Propanolol seems to have left in tact: my sense of humor. If anything, my sense of humor is keener than ever. I laugh hysterically almost everyday at comedy on my iPhone, a t.v. show (I watch Arrested Development while I exercise), joking around with friends–you name the mirthful situation and I’m probably laughing at it these days. Sometimes, things just wander into my head unbidden and make me laugh. Monday, for instance, I was explaining to my class (which is working on analyzing images) that images have layers of meaning, and right there in the middle of class as I glanced at my notes and saw the word “layers” scrawled in red ink, a scene from Shrek streaked into my mind–you know, the one where Shrek is trying to explain to Donkey that Ogres are like onions because they have layers. Before I could stop myself, I chuckled aloud, so I decided to share my thought with my students. They laughed too, and it ended up being a great lesson. And on Thursday, I was talking to another class about using a thesaurus to aid in making their writing more interesting and sophisticated, and as I began to warn them about using the thesaurus too much or for phrases that are best left as they are, I remembered spontaneously the Friends episode in which Joey uses a thesaurus on every word in a reference letter he writes for Monica and Chandler. Again, I decided to share my thoughts with my students, and they laughed and I laughed and my point was effectively made.
Why on earth would things like that pop into my head when, most of the time, I have to really work to recall what happened yesterday? I don’t know, but I’m not complaining. I know a blessing when I see it, even if I am experiencing varying degrees of numbness. Of all emotional registers, mirth is the one I’d most hate to lose. As long as I can laugh, I’m doing alright. I’m not sure I ever feel more alive than when I’m laughing, in the moment, enjoying myself and my life and what’s around me. Whatever may be troubling me–or not troubling me, these days–doesn’t matter while the laughter lasts. And laughter echoes through my mind waking up the drug-heavy areas, and I feel like myself. I simply re-animate, even if it’s just for a little while. It makes all that numbness and the occasional blues easier to handle.
Mary Poppins told the children that a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, but really, the most delightful way to take things like Propanolol is with spoons full of laughter. And I feel like God has filled my heart to the brim with laughter, ready to spill over when I need it most, during the times that are most taxing on my psycho-emotional lethargy.
In the past few semesters, I’ve been including comedy clips here and there in class when I can find something that fits the content of the course. I find that it helps students to feel comfortable with each other and with me to laugh together. I know that laughing releases endorphins, and that may have something to do with it, but I’ve noticed that classes that laugh together are more willing to participate in class and have a better attitude about being there. This semester, I think the comedy is as helpful to my performance in the classroom as theirs. So if you know of funny stuff that an English teacher could show her classes, let me know!
Sing with me, now: “I love to laugh [he he he he] loud and long . . .”
Word cound: 777 (Jackpot!)