Sunday, May 17, 2009

No Joke

The great comic actor, Charlie Chaplin, once said, "In the end, everything is a gag." I suspect he was referring to the process he went through in making a film, but truthfully, I really don't know for sure. Nevertheless, it makes me think about comments I've heard, i.e. what if life is really one big joke? All I can say to that is, I hope not.

This is not to say I'm Mr. Humorless. It's just that there are so many things that are light years from funny. I'm thinking, for example, of a four year old boy who crowded between me and the scones yesterday at Whole Foods. He was being a "helper" as he opened the glass door to the pastries for his mother. The little guy was so serious and I appreciated his mother taking him seriously. It's easy to inadvertently trivialize the acts of childhood when, to the child, they are anything but "cute." It made me think of the commercial, "for everything else there's MasterCard," but this is priceless.

And then, there's the mid-morning sun trying to wend its way through the clouds and light rain. What was a mass of green grass and forest ten minutes ago out my window is now a collage of tones that, to my red-green color blind eyes, looks like a prospector's pan full of gleaming sand scattered with flecks of gold.

I'm streaming Colorado Public Radio this morning (, specifically, KVOD. At the moment, they're playing a Bach or Handel contata with brass accompaniment. It's the kind of piece that makes you think the composer must have stood at a window gazing at heaven and then tried with all his might to translate the vision into music.

I suspect when someone calls life a joke, they're referring to the helplessness they feel in the face of the magnitude of suffering with which we all are confronted. As if some cosmic comedian tossed this mess together like a salad and then stood back to watch us wallow in the oil and vinegar. I can see how someone might feel that way, but I always come back to things that are so joyful, so intensely hopeful, so very real, and I realize there are some things that are simply too good to be a joke.

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