“Don’t explain the joke,” and why shouldn’t I? I was thinking about this in the shower: a lot of humor (for me) comes from discovering the difference between expectations and reality. Something is particularly funny because I expected one thing but got another. Why then, shouldn’t I determine for myself (and share with others) my expectations and either how or why reality doesn’t agree them?

Like quite a few things that are “personal” to a person, the things a person finds funny are very telling about them. I’ve heard it said that people who have experienced a great deal of pain are among those with the potential to have the greatest breadth in humor. “Those who cry the most can potentially be the ones who laugh the most,” and so on, and so forth.

Yeah, okay, sure, they can be, or they could just be miserable and sad and lonely and whatnot. No, I think there’s a personal integrity and strength involved in being able to laugh at one’s self. The people who’ve had themselves beaten and abused have had an awful lot of attention called to them, and are therefore more easily aware of the things that set them apart from others: they are more aware of the self they have to laugh at.

Horrible and tragic as it is, there’s a lot that can be learned from that. There’s potential for growth anywhere there is life for growing. Unflagging optimism will ultimately prove that anything that is possible can be resisted or tolerated. I believe there’s a chance for a good outcome, when I know I can’t know what will happen. And shouldn’t I?