Wednesday, September 12

Thank you, Dane

Yesterday was the best day ever, and then I had a bad night because someone I really care about is in a whole mess of pain.

But I have learned that this brutal night cap to my awesome day does not alter the awesomeness of the day that I had.  Pain that cuts so overwhelmingly deep does not mean the good is lost, or even buried underneath. A really good day and a really bad night can co-exist.  And when you're at your computer, blogging on your blog, thinking all of the thoughts and feeling all of the feelings, you can choose whether the good or the bad is significant.

Lately I've been grappling with the champagne problem of life running smoothly, and my explosive and cathartic need to write has simmered, even though my desire to maintain my blog is as fiery as ever.

I refuse to stop writing simply because my life is great.  My life has always been great, even when it's shit.  I SUPER refuse to be one of those masochistic artists who inflict pain upon themselves to generate more material. The truly talented have unlocked the chains of hurt, often with or through art, and are free to be happy and be creative.  And even me, who LOVES 90's grunge, gets tired of the tortured artist act (except for Alice in Chains, especially the Dirt album, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and very select Nirvana).

It's not as if I haven't previously been thankful for every blessing that I have.  I've not only counted them, I've connected to them so tightly that I'm consumed by them, comprised of them. I am my blessings. But, when grateful is your default, the sharp need to write dulls a bit.

It's almost as if the universe was offended by my writing-under-happiness ways, and threw me an "LOL--Don't EVEN taunt me!" message.  Right now, I still ache with pain from last night. The hurt is raw, and laying on the surface, still clouding my concentration, and leading the Occupy Kate's Heartstreet movement.  I really haven't learned any lessons from it yet, and since it's a resurgence of past pain that I've work through, I honestly don't know if I will.  So here I am, unprocessed, but still writing.  In true PMA spirit, I'm choosing to write about the positive in my life.  Because even in the thick of this pain, I can see my beautiful life and good fortune through this veil of negativity, and it is with certain hope that I know it will be lifted.

So now I'm going to write about why I love comedy, specifically stand up.  Or in the words of Monty Python, "And now for something completely different..."

My therapist (why yes, I am a 20-something in New York City) also works for the legal system, doing psychological analysis of rapists and murderers.  Fun, right?  He said that with the horrific deeds that these people have done, it's sometimes hard to view them as human, and that often the only human connectivity comes through shared laughter. This makes sense to me.

Prepare to roll your eyes, critics-o-comedy, because the seeds of my stand-up comedy love were planted by Dane Cook.

As I mentioned, what I'm going through is a resurgence of past pain, super-surprisingly most of which took place in my adolescence. There weren't a whole lot of great days with bad nights.  It felt like bad days with restless nights, and it didn't feel like a temporary veil of pain, but that type of pain where  all of your surroundings have betrayed you.

But in a cloud of the searingly painful memories, one of my most piercing happy memories comes from Dane Cook's first Comedy Central special (Harmful If Swallowed).  I'd never really watched stand up before, or knew too much about it other than that Steve Martin's album made my dad late for his own wedding. But there I was, flipping through channels, trying to distract myself from invading swells of hopelessness, marched forward by armies of relentless traumas, when something amazing happened: I laughed. Not the kind of laugh where you smirk and make sounds from your vocal chords, but the kind where you're upheaving laughter from your gut, where you're heart starts racing, and you're struggling to catch your breath.  Watching comedy at it's best is cardiovascular exercise.

And then my dad came into the room, and he started laughing too.  And then my sister did.  She was literally on floor, in tears of hysterical laughter instead of hysterical pain, an all too foreign sight. I think my mom was in the kitchen, making dinner, and wondering what the hell was going on.

And in that moment, hopelessness disappeared.

Did it come back? Sure. But it taught me that the hopelessness can be just as temporary as the laughter, that the circumstances of being trapped in sorrow or showering in happiness can disappear in an instant, and that both are inevitable.

We can't always control what happens to us, but we can choose what will weigh more on our own personal scales.  So in late hours of last night/the early hours of this morning, I turned to comedy to tip mine in the direction of happiness.  I queued up comedians who have helped me through my worst, who I'll never be able to thank in person, comedians who I do know who you'll probably never meet, and even queued up the muppets, who are really the childhood gateway drug of comedy enthusiasts.

For far too long, comedy has been viewed purely as entertainment and not an art form, because the end result is laughter.  It feels like that mentality is changing, and I hope it is.  To those who don't, seek comedy when sad.  To comedians who are already making waves, please don't stop.  And to comedians who travel an hour to perform seven unpaid minutes of material to four people in a basement, don't stop either, because you never know who's life you may be changing.

Laughter can be an indicator of something greater than "thinking something is funny." Sometimes it's indicative of the disappearance of sadness, hopelessness, anger, bitterness, and fear.

Thank you, Dane.

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