"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." ~ Dolly Parton as Truvy, in "Steel Magnolias".
There's an absolutely wonderful short film by European filmmaker Christine Rabette entitled "Merci". In this exceptional 8 minute movie, not a word is spoken. Emotions, however, are conveyed with powerful imagery. The scene opens with an underground rail system and moves into a Metro car. The riders are nearly colorless...bland, beige, drab and downtrodden. Every face has a frown upon it. Every eye is downcast. It's a gloomy, depressing scene. The viewer feels the degradation, the monotony and the bleakness of the lives of the riders.
At the next Metro stop a smiling, robust, jolly man steps onto the train. Despite his grin, no one meets his gaze. He begins to chuckle, at first. Then guffaws. The train riders look aghast initially, or even disgusted. Yet, his laughter is infectious. Before long, the woman next to him is laughing along with him. The serious, stern riders further away begin to smile to themselves. Within an instant they, too, are giggling. A moment passes and the entire train is filled with optimistic, joyful mirth. As the Metro pulls into another stop, The Laughing Bodhisattva departs. But he leaves behind a much happier car.
For the past few weeks, I've felt quite a bit like the discouraged riders on that subway. One situation after another has left me depleted. Once again, I'm unwell. Although we don't have a diagnosis yet, I'm in nearly constant severe pain and am suffering from other ailments. It's been extremely difficult to get a doctor to return my calls. In the hospital, it was nearly impossible to find anyone to even really listen to me. They were simply too busy to meet my gaze. In a sense, those health care professionals were riding on this same sad Metro car along with me. Additionally, my husband just lost his job. More than that, he lost his career, due to downsizing. He's a well educated, hard working man and has always been employed. This blow has also been extremely demoralizing...not to mention that it's terrifying in this economy. My heart has been so heavy, it's been close to breaking for good.
Yet, I had my own personal Bodhisattva appear, in canine form, this morning. My dog, Dakota, is a rescue. She's a beautiful Shiloh Shepherd. She came to us with many fears and has slowly been emerging from her personal troubled subway ride. As Dakota has gained in confidence, a mischievous sprite has taken form. I woke up to find her snuggling with me in bed. This isn't surprising. Dakota is very cuddly. What was unexpected, at any rate, was that my entire bed was covered in toilet paper. Not only was Dakota wrapped up like a mummy, but my other dog, Murphy (a Newfoundland-Golden Retriever mix) also was quietly bearing the binds of his wrappings. My lamps were covered. My robe, next to the bed, was covered. Somehow, my Kindle was completely wrapped up in its own package, as was the remote control to the television. There was toilet paper from headboard to the end of my bed, draping us all in a cocoon. It was as if I woke up in a canopy bed made of toilet paper. Miraculously, none of it was really broken. It was all looping, long, entire rolls. And, I'd slept through the entire construction. My crimson and gold bedding was lost in a sea of white. Seeing through the curtains of toilet paper, I saw two beautiful, mirthful eyes. Dakota had been waiting for me to wake up.
Although Dakota couldn't begin laughing herself, I knew that this was her gift to me. Her sprightly, goofy antics were the medicine I needed. I laughed. And laughed. And laughed. Dakota got up and rollicked around with the now destroyed toilet paper castle. She jumped. She whirled. She nearly pulled me out of bed with her merry shenanigans. I loved every second.
Are our problems solved? No. Do we have any answers to the fearful question we face? Also, no. But Dakota gave me a precious treat: the ability to look at the present moment with joy in my heart. When you think about it, isn't that what we all need? Life isn't about the long term; it's about loving each day as if comes, finding the bright spots and steering your course towards them. It's also about laughter through tears. If we can't laugh during our times of trial, then we won't see the miracles that are right in front of us...even if those miracles are created by a dog with a penchant for toilet paper.