A Pleasant Whiff

May 9, 2011
“Some people enjoy the smell of their own farts.” What? That captivating sentence, all the more delightful because it was written in a storytelling handout by my English professor, caused me, upon reading it last night, to break the library silence. In customary fashion, the sensation from my outburst felt liberating, rejuvenating, stimulating, yet also relaxing—almost like a fart, but more fun and stank-free.

Laughter is more like a cool breeze that enters through a window to invigorate the atmosphere of the whole room—a breath of fresh air to the body and soul. And do we ever need that refresher. The stresses of everyday life cause us to shut up the windows and doors of our mind and heart, polluting the home of our inner being with foul must, reeking of all the things we must do, but, unlike some people with their farts, we do not enjoy that smell. Yesterday, I was stressing out about finishing my Spanish essay in time for a 2:45pm appointment with my professor. I was trying my best to focus, but my leg was fidgety, a sign of my own anxiety distracting me. At one point, through my earplugs, my wavering attention was attracted by a menacing voice booming from a macho villain on a TV show my roommate was watching, “Well, well, well, come to save Little Miss Muffet, have we?” . . . What? I almost tried to ignore it, but it was too ridiculous; a burst of Laughter mercifully released some of my musty musts and let in a gust of relieving, fresh perspective: Rejoice in the unexpected. Cherish the beauty of the moment. Life doesn’t have to be so serious.

When my essay was finally printed, I hurriedly pulled on my favorite, old t-shirt and rushed out the door, ten minutes late to my appointment, wearing no bra, of course. An hour later, I made my way out of Profesora’s office building after our meeting, thinking, “That wasn’t so bad.” Only then did I look down and realize, to my horror, that my favorite, old shirt has a hole the size of a small button. Right... there. I felt my eyes pop open and my nostrils flare. I froze, mid-sidewalk, my downward gape at the treacherous spot only trumpeting my faux pas to the rest of the world. A four-letter word jumped out of my mouth. I thought, “Did she notice?!” Then, realizing I would probably never know, I threw my head back and convulsed with Laughter. What else could I do but humble myself and inhale the hilarity of the situation? Humor, Laughter’s partner in crime, had been at work, unlocking the windows and doors of my inner being to welcome gusts of Laughter into my body and soul.

Just as a deep breath of fresh air fills our blood with oxygen and triggers exhalation of carbon dioxide, Laughter fills our blood stream with endorphins and purges our bodies of toxic stress. In India, the salutary effects of laughter have even been channeled into purposeful exercise through laughter yoga. Just as mindful breathing predisposes us to deeper breathing, awareness of Laughter’s blessings makes us more susceptible to its pleasant breezes. Now, I prop open the windows and doors to let in all the fresh Laughter I can because a whiff of that actually does smell quite pleasant.

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