On my recent return flight from the states I saw something that would forever change my flying experience. It happened at that time in a flight when passengers fed; slip off into their own private space. Engrossed in books, movies, music or relaxing in the place of reverie all is quiet bar the sound of the engine wrapping itself around the plane. When suddenly, a short, loud, delightful burst of serious, belly laughter fills the air. With silence broken a number of disconcerted bodies shift and settle. But not for long, as a few moments later another loud burst of laughter escapes. Straight from the belly it is deep, rich and male.
From my seat I can see its owner, a young man enjoying a movie on the small screen in front of him. Every few moments he explodes into totally delightful laughter. Many peer over their seats, straining to find the origin of this unexpected sound. This goes on for sometime. Like a roller-coaster ride there are moments of silence and then rolls of very loud laughter which sends cascading bubbles down the isles. With fascination, I watch the reaction to his enjoyment. Not everyone finds it delightful. Straining faces quickly turn to disapproving glances, annoyance and sadly disgust, which I find quite odd. Perhaps it is an unusual occurrence but to me his outbursts are delicious. I can’t help smile as more and more bubbles settle around me. With no curiosity about his viewing I just appreciate his life spilling over into mine. Caught in the web of humor, he remains oblivious of others. If he thinks something funny, we all know it.
How can one disapprove of laughter I thought? Okay, perhaps at someones cost or an inappropriate moment but his laughter came from a positive response to the movie. He was having fun. Maybe they found it difficult because unexpected, it was unusual or unsettling. Perhaps they felt it too invasive.
Have we become so far removed into our heads that we find it strange to hear laughter? With text and e-mail becoming more the norm, has our communication suffered? Have we fallen into silence, not in our head but with one another? Has the tap, tap, tapping taken the place of brief, little unexpected chats? Have we forgotten how to enjoy?
I am sure we can all recall the roll of a good belly laugh when something strikes us so funny tears literally roll down our cheeks. It feels fantastic. Usually this happens in the company of others. Laughter is a contagious energy, a very social expression of fun. Perhaps then, it was the context that disconcerted many and the fact that this young man laughed alone. If he were crying I wonder if as many necks would have strained. Would we have been as bothered? Annoyed? Are we more tolerant with an expression of unhappiness and feel invaded with one that is one pleasurable?
I don’t have the answers to my questions. But I do think it a bit sad that laughter; real laughter seems a rare commodity these days.
Laughter is such a healing emotion and indeed there are records of people healing their illness through laughter. Watching comedy after comedy they laughed themselves to better health. If laughter holds such power, why don’t we make it a point to promote this positive expression? How much better we would feel.
In my household come Christmas we buy our house a present. Each December our home gets a new board game. We make it a point to have games evenings, as it just feels good to laugh. I wonder with technological advancement are we loosing out on social interaction, made excited by the roll of a die, as we prefer to play alone on our computer, X box and phone.
Wouldn’t it be great if we made the effort to bring more fun into our lives and fill the airwaves with our laughter? Cascading more and more of those delightful bubbles out into the world. Laughter is contagious. How much lighter and brighter we would be.
I thank that happy, fellow passenger as he made an imprint on my mind. I don’t think I will ever fly again without a smile as when the lights dim and all is quiet I will recall the huge, totally appetizing, vivacious, richness of his laughter and who knows it maybe me that others peer around their seats to see, as my chuckle sends cascading bubbles in the air.