We all share life’s basic high and low-feeling experiences. We all regret and grieve. We all know what it’s like to feel threatened and to react aggressively. We all feel uncomfortable when things don’t feel ‘fair.’ We all know what it is like to trust, and to lose our sense of trust. And, even if we couldn’t sustain it, we’ve all felt the gravity of unconditional love.
The feeling that is often left off the list of normal human feelings is ‘humour.’ In fact, in most people’s lives, humour is not an active aspect of their daily existence—instead it gets treated like some rare form of ‘special event’ feeling, where it’s the emotional equivalent of getting dressed up and going out.
I have asked many people, and it’s not uncommon for an adult to reply that they can’t even recall the last time they laughed really hard. It’s near mythical to them. Yet, adults keep trying to teach children things, when it’s the adults that should be doing more learning. Healthy kids are still natural humans, untainted by weighty thoughts.
Without those thoughts, kids learn fast and laugh a lot, which makes them excellent teachers when it comes to leading an enlightened life. Unlike adults, they are much faster to drop the past, they don’t think much about the future other than to accurately anticipate it will be filled with opportunity—and they do all of that because they are so invested in the moment they are in.
The reason their awareness matters is because humour exists at the intersection between two sane ideas that meet in an absurd manner. The ‘meeting’ part is why kids laugh so much more—and that event happens in the present. It is something we can only ‘realize’ by being aware of it when it happens.
Adults have trouble with that because we think too much, so we live in the future and the past. So we’ll often miss the funny absurdities in the present, and instead only note the sad absurdities that are formed by comparing our long term hopes to our current reality.
The secret of the younger, happier kids is, they don’t regret or hope—they simply ‘are.’ Adult aren’t that present because we’re always ‘thinking ahead,’ but that thinking is always based in the past.
This means that egos exist on the assumption that history will repeat itself, which is what allows people to slip into a state of low consciousness. It makes life like driving; we can do it in a state of low consciousness. But that doesn’t mean it’s wise.
Comparatively, if we’re in a new city, where we’re less comfortable about where we’re going, suddenly our driving skills become very conscious. That’s a notable difference in presence. And kids live in that very conscious state, whereas most adults are only aware ‘enough’ to function, but not enough to truly come alive to find the humour in life.
A comic can plan to tell a joke. But other than to increase our odds by going to see them, or a comedy of some sort, we otherwise cannot plan to laugh—it is a spontaneous reaction to current events, (or the re-living of past spontaneous reactions). There is no cheating the need for presence in its creation.
So what does this mean? It means that people who genuinely laugh a lot, and who find a lot of humour in life, are actually quite enlightened. But because people look for saffron robes, bald heads, and lotus poses, we often fail to note the gurus among us: the children, and those filled with mirth.
At death, people can suddenly see so clearly how life was simply an opportunity. Like a basket, we can fill it with any of the feelings I listed at the start of this post. But if we want to fill it with more love and humour, the price is our presence. Fortunately, once we learn how, paying that price is a pleasure.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.