Most of my collages have an element of humor or contradiction in them. Aside from being curious about what things would look like that aren't normally combined together, the results just makes me laugh.
One theory about humor suggests that laughter is triggered when some norm has been "breached" but the breach is harmless. Or when a situation has any number of things that appear to contradict each other or seem completely impossible together.
We take life so seriously, and sometimes that's warranted. But when life gets scary or heavy or sad, I find it's incredibly helpful to laugh.
It boosts my spirits so that somehow, there's a break in my negative or tight thinking, and I find new ways to think about and live with situations that seem impossible.
Probably no one is surprised that laughter is good medicine. It's been said a million ways to Sunday. Think of Norman Cousins' book, _The Anatomy of an Illness_, where he documents the power of laughter to triumph over illness.
Think of the amazing popularity of comedians, especially the early comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers.
Everyone knows what it feels like to have a good belly laugh (although some of us haven't had one of those in a long time). Even a giggle or a snort or a chuckle has it's benefits.
Laughter releases neuropeptides that boost our immune system. Laughter also releases those feel-good chemicals called endorphins that can relieve pain and stress. And laughter increases oxygen intake, which obviously benefits the entire body.
Laughing can take the pressure off when we're feeling stuck or overwhelmed. It helps us take a step back from whatever we're engaged in, take a breath and regroup.
There is one kind of humor, though, that doesn't include the benefits I mentioned above. That's the kind of humor that's at the expense of another person.
Not only do we not feel good or happy, even if we do end up laughing, but mean humor hurts us, disconnects us, and makes life a "me against them" scenario.
But "healthy" laughter gives us all a well-needed break from sameness: the same way of looking at life, the same way looking at ourselves.
Sameness prevents us from being creative, from finding new solutions, from seeing new possibilities, from discovering the depths within us that can help us live rich, rewarding lives.
We are all going through difficult, unfamiliar, even life-threatening times. But allowing ourselves a moment to lighten up, to smile, to laugh at our foibles and let go of our often rigid ways of seeing provides a space in which hope, goodness and opportunity can emerge from within us.
When they do emerge (and they inevitably will) we can share them with others in whatever way is unique to us.
And that will lift others up so they, too, are able to see beyond what is to what's possible.