I’m not a big fan of bumper stickers. I find it odd that people want to display their political sentiments on a used Honda for the world to see. I find it annoying to have to stare at hateful words about our President at the stoplight in front of the grocery store. And I’m amazed so many people put stick-figure families on their mini-vans to display how many people and pets live in their households. Yes, yes. Michael plays soccer. You have a cat. Riveting stuff.
My own daughter asked that her school name be displayed on the back of our Chevy Tahoe. But do you think given my poor driving and bad texting habit I want to announce what school we’re affiliated with and have people stare into the car from afar to see if they know me? You don’t know me. I’m likely to run into you from the rear by accident or be smirking unpleasantly at your family of stick people.
So it might surprise you that I slapped a bumper sticker on the back of my car. Yes I did. The very woman who is constantly shaking her head at the stupid Jesus Fish / Darwin Fish debacle. It’s on there, firmly planted square in the middle.
Laugh until life makes sense.
It’s one of my life mottos. So when I saw this sticker a year ago, I immediately went home, created a (very often unseen) circle of clean with a paper towel and Windex, and stuck this saying on my back window.
Sometimes I check my rear-view mirror and see my daughter lip-syncing to Katy Perry, or notice that my son has used his squeezable yogurt to finger-paint on the back glass. But quite often I simply catch the word – laugh. It’s written not only for the cars behind me, but for me to see when I need it most. There are times I don’t feel like laughing. Times when I’m gripping the wheel in prayer that I’ll make it until lunch. And yet somewhere in there, there’s a silver lining.
Given enough space and distance from pain, life can be funny. What other attitude is really worth having? Who wants to hang out with people who scowl all day, eat fiber, and gripe about the lack of comfortable pants? My oncologist said that people who laugh a lot really do live longer. From one who’s made it through some rough health patches, I can use all the help I can get.
When my own life gets hard, I lose weight. I end up putting the coffee creamer in the pantry and buy multiple cartons of eggs. My dentist tells me that I might need a root canal and I realize my sobbing cry face looks like a hollowed out whale. So I go to the mall to invest in a quart of face cream but catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. How did a homeless woman end up at Neiman’s? Don’t they have security in this place? Oh, wait. That’s me, wearing a sweatshirt from high school that says Coca-Cola Classic.
And just like that, on my way to the YMCA to choke out a run on the treadmill, I smile. It bobbles up and down into a chuckle, which erupts into a real belly shaker, and a few cackles later I’m in full-on snort mode. Did I really go to Neiman’s wearing sweat pants with a hole in the knee? Am I seriously going to need a root canal? Why in the world do I have all these freaking eggs?
This life we live doesn’t make sense. There is so much killing and suicide and death and mental illness. There’s chaos and disarray and a dusty, cursed earth. And yet we are made for more than this. We are not in this place forever. The righteous will not be moved, and you can only do what you can do in a day’s time. And when the really hard stuff hits, you'll be prepared. After a night of no sleep, you'll wake up to discover you’re out of coffee, your kid's school uniform is dirty, it's snack day at your kid's preschool and all you have is raisins, and some wild animal has knocked over your trash can in the night, strewing trash all over your front lawn. You have to fight demons and hurt with friends and heal from grief and now this? Yeah, it happens. And it's a tiny bit funny.
Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything. A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. 3:4. So mourn and sob and weep and sigh. Take Advil and Zanax and buy more coffee. But in the end, realize that you have enough eggs to make quiche for the tri-county area, and that’s just downright weird.
As for me and my Chevy Tahoe, we’re dwelling in this season of laughter as long as we both can, puffing and choking and driving toward the bitter end.
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