When my son came to me recently and told me that he did not do that well for his PSLE, I was sorely disappointed. I became morose and angry. I regressed into a fetal position and experienced a retardation back to those puberty-fighting days of wanton petulance. In other words, I acted like a child, spoilt and weepy.
I have made a mistake. I should have responded differently. I should have recalled that “if I think, therefore I am,” then isn’t it no less true that “if I laugh, therefore I am?” If I could have done it all over again, I might just laugh about it. I might just look at my son and echo the words of Mark Twain, “Never let your schooling interfere with your education.” Or this, “I was born intelligent until education ruined me.”
Laughing about it may look silly and it doesn’t solve the problem. I know that. But at least, it is a good vaccine against the virus that often cause grown men of reasonable intelligence who claims to be a renaissance father to end up acting like an annoying, pig-headed jerk.
So, here is my shuffled cards of life. The deck has already been dealt before me. There will be kings of hearts, queens of clover and spades of the smallest digits. And there will also be a joker or two hiding somewhere in life’s shuffle. I have a choice. It is a choice between facing life’s challenges with a sense of humor or facing it with a constipated, diarrhea-panic look of you-are-just-not-good-enough.
I guess Samuel Beckett was right when he said, “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.” Even in the worse of times, you can squeeze out a pound of funny like popping green goo from pimples. Take baby Jesus, for example, struggling in a makeshift manger away from the mad-man Herod’s killing spree. Imagine if it were three wise women instead of three wise men who came to visit and bless him. Do you know what would happen? Well, according to one interpretation, “they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts.”
Or try this Nazi joke for size. Two Jews are waiting to face a firing squad, when the news arrives that they are to be hanged instead. One turns to the other and says, “You see – they’ve run out of ammunition!” How’s that for laughing at the storm? Humor is indeed infectious. It is in fact worse than ebola. And in today’s modern technology age, some Malaysians might just call it e-boleh!
I recall one of the words of wisdom from Charlie Brown, “In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.” And if you have time to read the book of life, make sure you get your hands on a funny one. God knows we already have enough of melodramatic, soapy-sad tales in our world.
One Holocaust survivor, Gizelle Cycowycz, who was also a psychologist once remarked, “We laughed under the worst circumstances.” She recalled in the Nazi-controlled barracks, she traded dirty jokes with former prostitutes. At the production line, she unabashedly giggled over funny songs and stories. It even turned a little sadistic when she laughed at the hardship around her. “We were hungry like hell, but we laughed,” she said. “It had to be a release.”
And most truly, I seriously need more of that kind of release. I am a sniff-neck, uptight and perpetually morose father. If there were ever a rectum competition to see who can shit out the most bricks per anal force and win the first prize of a truckload of star-dust sprinkled bullshit, I would have won hands down and pants down (flushed down too).
Personally, I often lose my way in a world where your worth is measured in the most superficial way. The world somehow seems to have forgotten that living is hard enough without putting unnecessary strain on one’s neurotic need to be smarter, look better, earn more, shine brighter, score higher, accumulate more, and compare endlessly. I always remind myself that I am indebted to life for just being alive and even more so to enjoy the company of loved ones and friends. And if the whole of the law is to love God and love thy neighbors and the rest is mere commentary, then I am blessed enough to have the opportunity to love my son and to have him love me back.
Isn’t that what living is truly all about? How much is that actually worth as compared to the material success that the world is desperately advocating for? Has anyone even bothered to put a price on bonding with your children, being emboldened by failures and not discouraged, enjoying what you have and not craving for what you don’t, and honoring your oath by loving your wife for a lifetime? Is there no pleasure to be derived from such pursuits that don’t cost a single cent but is infinitely worth more than anything in this world put together?
So, let me end here in humor. It Is said that children are like wet cement and whatever falls on them makes an impression. Well, if that is so, I want this to be cemented with my son: That I love him. That I love unconditionally. That the only disappointment I have is that I have not love him enough. That he is the reason why I am a father. That fatherhood is a privilege and is priceless. That love is my greatest joy. And that he is my greatest joy. Cheerz.