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The Fine Art of Laughing

It is as vital to my life as air, food and water. If I didn’t have it I would surely wilt away into nothing. It signifies hope and light and love and all that is glorious. It mends, connects. It is my favorite thing to do in the world and I struggle to find commonalities with others that don’t relish it like I do. I am deeply attracted to people that do it with wild abandon. When I do this with someone, I find myself longing for more. Addicted. Yearning for another hit. 

It is possible that somewhere in my early childhood, laughing became intertwined in all of my emotions, good and bad. I had a tendency to laugh when I was in trouble. Or in church. Or in class. Maybe that is why I trust people more when I can laugh openly with them. If you can handle the laughing, you can handle the rest of me. 

My husband Charlie and I are complete opposites. We process information and channel emotions in completely different ways. Although he values laughter as much as I do, we laugh differently. His laugh is more of an inner chuckle that starts in his eyes and progresses into more of an outward “hahaha”. It is subtle and if you don’t know my him well you might not be able to read how funny he finds a situation. His quick wit and sense of humor has brightened even my darkest days. On a ride home from visiting my dying father in hospice, he was quiet and respectful of my outward and almost violent tears. He didn’t try to fix it or say that it would be ok. He just let me cry. A block from our home, he slammed on the brakes. Hard. I looked over at him with a dumbstruck expression, what the fuck? He looked at me with such kind eyes and simply said “silly goose.” Again, what the fuck? I looked at him and then directed my gaze to the front of the car, where a goose was crossing the street. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I laughed. It was everything.

My friend Tracy is more of a violently loud belly-laugher like me. These sudden episodes can come without warning. Decades of shared experiences and memories can lead to sudden bouts of insane laughter. Our bodies shake and we can’t talk. Sometimes we haven’t even articulated what we think is so funny, we just know. Or we don’t. But the laughing takes on a life of its own and moves from loud to completely silent, tears stream out the corners of our eyes followed by intermittent snorts. We usually continue on with no end in sight, with each of us unintentionally picking a key word or phrase to repeat between snorts and heavy shoulder shakes. Hers are usually something like “no fucking way” and mine are more of a whining sound that is a combination of “oh my God” and “so funny” and the occasional “dying.” It is truly physical and never gets old.

My father in law has the most unexpected laugh and it is glorious. By most measures, Fred is not a jovial man. He is most outwardly friendly to children and dogs and in comparison to his energetic, bubbly wife can seem like the quintessential grumpy old man (sorry Fred). But his laugh is one of the most amazing things I will ever witness. It is silent and physical and tears stream over his bright red cheeks. Once it starts, it overcomes him and it continues without any end in sight. Even when he gains control over it, aftershocks occur. On occasion the aftershocks create another full cycle of silence, tears and red cheeks. 

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Kari Shideman

I'm Kari...

and I am a Scorpio of Italian, German and Irish descent who feels things deeply and has shit to say about it.

I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a cynic, a dreamer, an encourager, a believer in unexpected blessings.

I believe that life is both amazing and brutally hard at times. To be human is to connect with others, and to fully accomplish this, we need to live in the REAL. Life is not meant to go through on the surface level.

My hope is that somehow I will inspire people to dive a little deeper, to laugh a little harder, to live a little more connected.

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