Thoughts Along the Path . . .
I often listen to “Oldies” stations –not only because I like the songs but also because they offer a sweet mixture of enjoyable music and nostalgia.
This morning I happened to hear the Karen Carpenter song “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” and thought longingly of the world this song beckons us to. Beyond that though, I remembered my own childhood dream: “To write the world's funniest book in a language everyone can read.” That’s the exact wording I used, though I do not recall what it meant to me then. Did I know how big the world is? Did I know how many languages there are?
Ignoring for now my childhood naivete, I am wondering what, beyond words and language, offers the shared experience of humor, fun, or joy. Beethoven’s masterpiece “Ode to Joy” immediately comes to mind. The music is often described as transcendent, defined as “something beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience.”
In the visual realm, we might think of cartooning. Perhaps you have seen “Calvin & Hobbes” comics with perfectly sketched lines that take us into the world of children’s imaginations. Burlesque-style theatre brings laughter through physical humour – slipping on a banana peel or a sly look at the audience.
I remember some years ago when John and I volunteered for a service project in Albania. Most of the villages we visited had no hotels or other commercial food or sleeping facilities; we were entirely dependent on the hospitality of strangers and/or our own ingenuity. One evening we were staying with a couple who spoke no English, and we spoke no Albanian, Greek, or Italian (their languages). They turned on the TV and we shared an hour of hearty laughter while watching “Mr. Bean”. The main character is almost wordless, but the situations he gets into, his facial expressions, and his physicality portray more story than dialog alone could offer.
Later this morning I looked into the Baha’i writings for ideas about laughter, joy, and humour — and how they relate to our well-being and enrichment. Among the many quotations I found is this one from Abdul-Baha, the son of the founder of the Faith: “My home is the home of peace, joy and delight. My home is the home of laughter and exultation. Whoever enters through the portals of this home must go out with gladsome heart.” We can also consider this quotation from Proverbs: “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” And yet one more from Abdul-Baha: “The language of kindness is the lodestone of hearts and the food of the soul.”
With or without language, we find that laughter, smiles - even a simple act of kindness — can connect as well as nourish us. Sincerely offered, the communication is complete.
Submitted to Ayr News by Jaellayna Palmer, January 2022
© Jaellayna Palmer 2022