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Laughing panacea

india Updated: Jul 10, 2012 22:40 IST
Shalini Rai
Shalini Rai
Hindustan Times

In times of difficulty, we are often told to listen to our inner voice. As a solution to our current dilemma, we expect to find a solemn, pedagogic response. Yet the best advice is often given in jest and accepted with a broad smile. Those in the know are aware that God does have a sense of humour, even where atheists are concerned. As Woody Allen said, “To you I’m an atheist. To God, I’m the loyal opposition.”

Daily life is always a bit of an ordeal for most people who either live within their means or are forced to live within their means. English essayist Joseph Addison put it thus, “They were a people so primitive that they did not know how to get money except by working for it.” As a rejoinder, Robert Frost, the famous American poet had this to say, “The world is filled with willing people; some willing to work, the rest willing to let them (work).”

But Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright, differed and said, “Anyone who lives within his means suffers from a lack of imagination.” He was being witty, of course. It helps to have a ready reckoner of things humorous, especially where it concerns oneself. Even Mother Teresa, who nursed many patients back to health and saved countless souls, could not help but complain to God thus, “I know God will not give me anything I cannot handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” For the wise, the world is divided into those who know and those who don’t know one simple fact. And that fact is: life is like a room full of twisted mirrors at a circus. You may not have control over which mirror you end up in front of. But your expression — smile, frown, smirk, amazement — is well within your grasp. As the American comedian Jonathan Winters put it, “If God had intended us to fly, he would have made it easier to get to the airport.”