Have you ever caught yourself trying to explain your sense of humor to someone without one? I'll say something borderline-hysterical, and receive no response from that other person. So then, I end up sounding like even more of an idiot: "You see... it's funny because... it's hilarious."
I'm often asked about how I do what I do... how I deal with the stress, the workload, and the heartbreak of animal rescue. There's really no simple answer to that question, and I'm sure every animal rescuer out there would agree with me.
Some days, I feel strong. Well... strong-ish. On those days, for whatever reason, I'm somehow able to handle things a little better. It's like... at certain times, my mind, my heart, my body... they're just sooo much more on-top of their freaking game, dude.
Other times, I'll be honest: I don't deal well at all. I mean, sure... I'm able to get through each day, and I don't really complain about it. But it's more of an autopilot type deal... a "do what you gotta do because you have no other choice" type situation, if you know what I mean.
(And I'm sure every animal rescuer/animal shelter worker out there does know exactly what I mean.)
When it comes to "what works" and "what doesn't," I can only speak for me personally, from my own experience, regarding my own ways of coping. And trust me... I certainly have plenty of "unhealthy" ways of dealing, but I wouldn't recommend many of them to anyone, from an advice standpoint. I'm gonna go with... DON'T follow my lead on those things. Yeah... just don't.
That aside, today, I wanted to share my very best tip for handling the world of animal rescue, but also... life in general. This isn't something "major" or "insightful" or "brilliant." It's not something I "invented," or even "came up with" myself. But it's definitely something that works for me --without question-- every time I'm willing to let it in.
That's right, I freaking said it. Laughter. It sounds so simple, silly, effing stupid-as-shit, even. But laughter has been the cure for nearly every difficult day I've ever had. And without it... I'd be a miserable excuse for a human being. We all would.
Therefore, I laugh at myself. I laugh with others. I laugh at the ass-birds of the world.
Basically, I take all of the serious junk in my life, and I make fun of it.
I realize that sounds a little messed up.. maybe even delusional... but I don't care, because it works for me.
It's not about denying reality, or avoiding the issues, or pretending things aren't so sad. (Well... maybe sometimes, just a little.)
Regardless, I get it: reality exists, issues must be faced, and sad things happen. Duh.
But in my opinion, no matter how bad things are (or how bad they seem), if I can't laugh... then I can't freaking make it.
Sooo, I surround myself with people who make me laugh, or help me laugh, or laugh with/at me. Yes, I said AT me. You'll rarely meet a more self-deprecating individual than me. I make fun of myself ALL THE TIME. Daily. Hourly. By the minute. And I love when others join me.
I'm lucky to have some truly incredible people in my life; I swear, my friends are some of the most hilarious people on the planet. If I talk to you, and you're a friend of mine, this is probably one of the biggest reasons: it's because you're effing hysterical, and I love you for that. (Even if you have no other decent qualities whatsoever. I'm talking, like, NOTHING else going for ya-- if you can make me laugh, then I'll probably talk to you. Maybe just not in public...)
And if you CAN'T laugh, like ever... or if you're offended by me, simply because I CAN laugh, and do... then no need to try and make small talk, buddy. I promise we won't get along. Trust me on that.
Maybe my sense of humor is a little (or a lot) inappropriate at times, and beyond-sarcastic ALL the time, but my friends get me, and they always laugh with me. Plus, my dogs laugh with me... tell me I'm hilarious and junk. Hell, even I laugh with me, even when no one's around. I can't help myself. Laughing is awesome.
Maybe I love to laugh, simply because it feels good. Or maybe it's because laughter makes the pain hurt a little less, for just a little while. Or maybe... because it keeps me from crying.
Either way, laughter is my crazy pill; I freaking need it; I freaking love it. It keeps me happy, sane, and grounded. It makes me feel alive... even during those times when I feel quite the opposite.
When I find myself getting to a place where I've allowed the sadness to steal my laughter, that's when I know that something's gotta change. It's always my "Aha" moment... realizing that I haven't laughed in a while.
So, what do I do? Well, I call a friend, and say: "Okay... I need to laugh. WHAT'S UP on THAT, buddy?" Then, if/when they come up short on jokes, because I've just made things suuuper awkward with immediate demands of giggles, I'll say: "Fine... my turn. Listen to this shit, check it out... So THIS bitch..."
I highly recommend this... it works every freaking time.
I know it sounds so simplistic, ridiculous, and maybe even idiotic, but for me, that's how I find my way back to "okay." It's rarely anything major... there's usually not some massive "turning point." Instead, all I need for me is a little bit of laughter, a lot of love, and the inevitable realization that things will get better.
Because deep down, I always know: if I can laugh... then I can make it. And so can you.