Tuesday, November 17, 2009


My daughter is a funny girl. Silly and playful - she loves to make others laugh and she's got a pretty sly and witty sense of humor for one so young.

One thing I admire about her and my husband is their willingness to be ridiculous in their play. They don't mind looking crazy or acting dopey - particularly if it's funny and is going to get the desired response of laughter they may be seeking via their antics.

I have always struggled with appearing foolish. I equated silly with stupid, and I feared appearing stupid. Here I am in my late 30s, and life looks very different in this decade. So it is my concept of foolish has begun to change.

It began, I believe, when my daughter was very young. She liked to go to the mall and ride the electronic doodads and geegaws all clumped together in the small, tyke-friendly playland outside the arcade and across from the food court.

One day I watched my husband do a series of clown routines for her as she rode a series of objects. Horse. Ice cream truck. Car with tongue-wagging dog. He threw himself into it completely - without regard for passers-by, mall staff, or other children milling about.

I saw him do this many times. In many malls. And each time, he unflinchingly chose to be as foolish as possible in the most public of places... all so his daughter would giggle in the way that makes his heart giddy.

And here we are in toddlerhood. Moving away from the rides and into new territory filled with preschool, friend-making, and an increased curiosity about the world and its many inhabitants. I see my daughter choosing to be silly and playful at home... reveling in the genuine laughter she can produce from her oft-too-serious parents. And I have seen her shy away from being anything that might get her noticed in any way when at school or meeting new people.

She is caught between two models... two modes of interaction offered by her parents: 1) abandon and 2) hiding. Perhaps it is this observation, above any other, leading me to question my relationship with silliness.

I have begun to notice great strength in the foolishness of others. My envy of others' ability to dive head-long into goofy behavior has morphed into admiration... something to be inspired by. Something to aspire to.

Back in October, I did a run of five weeks in Too Much Light... and challenged myself to be silly. To be laughed at. To be ridiculous or large or clownish. And... in some ways... I was successful in my pursuit. In fact, one ensemble member actually used the word clown (which made my day).

My hope is to become sillier with age... to grow increasingly willing to engage in antics and goofiness for the benefit of others and to care less about what it means or what it looks like or what so-and-so thinks of my behavior.

Silliness is ego-less. It is without attachment and often without expectation. In its best sense, it's the embodiment of compassion and joy - an authentic response to the humor and playful wonder available in so many small moments and details of life. Just as it is.

May you abandon your ego in pursuit of silliness today. May you refuse to self-edit yourself out of goofy, grinny, foolish fun.

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