Today is a Day for Laughter

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The Lad graduates from high school today and I wanted to find some way to commemorate this day for him and for myself. Finn’s graduation feels different from Keara’s in 2015, in part because she was our oldest and we’d never experienced the milestone before. However, it also feels different because Finn is different. Keara took graduation seriously; it felt momentous to her. Finn, on the other hand, is LIGHT, completely nonplussed by any of the pomp and circumstance.

LIGHT is one of the best words I have to describe him, but I don’t mean that he is lightweight, or shallow by any means. He is graduating with honors, was accepted to Cal Poly SLO, and loves to converse with people of all ages and interests. It just means that if given an option, Finn is going to choose a smile, a silliness, or a not-so-subtle gesture to add levity to any situation (at least for himself). For a couple years in his early teens, his mischievous grin went MIA, but over the last eighteen months, we’ve seen it flourish in ever new ways, as evidenced by the photographs at the end of this note.

Anytime I find myself shaking my head at his exploits, which I admittedly find embarrassing sometimes, a friend, or family member will gently remind me, “It’s Finn,” as if that explains everything. And in some ways it does. Who he was at two with his chubby cheeks and impish grin is who he has become again, albeit with more facial hair. Finn “coming out to play” is sure to make your burdens a little lighter and your day a little brighter. And that’s true in our home as well. In good times and bad, Finn is usually the elixir for whatever ails his sisters.

So, today is a day for laughter, courtesy of the Sufi poet Hafiz.

“Laughter”

What is laughter? What is laughter?

It is God waking up! O it is God waking up!

It is the sun poking its sweet head out

From behind a cloud

You have been carrying too long,

Veiling your eyes and heart.

It is Light breaking ground for a great Structure

That is your Real body – called Truth.

It is happiness applauding itself and then taking flight

To embrace everyone and everything in this world.

Laughter is the polestar

Held in the sky by our Beloved,

Who eternally says,

“Yes, dear ones, come this way,

Come this way toward Me and Love!

Come with your tender mouths moving

And your beautiful tongues conducting songs

And with your movements – your magic movements

Of hands and feet and glands and cells – Dancing!

Know that to God’s Eye,

All movement is a Wondrous Language,

And Music – such exquisite, wild Music!”

O what is laughter, Hafiz?

What is this precious love and laughter

Budding in our hearts?

It is the glorious sound

Of a soul waking up!

This poem and note are a love letter to my son on this special day and a word of wisdom as well: Laughter is the glorious sound of your Soul waking up! When your pleasure in the present moment cannot be contained, laughter is what spills out and when you create opportunities for others to laugh, it will give even deeper purpose to your Joy. As long as it is not at someone else’s expense, laughter is a sign of your soul expanding; it is the sound of God rejoicing in and through you and all of creation.

Finn, you don’t need to be a clown, but keep being one of God’s Holy Fools, reminding the rest of us to wake up and look at this beautiful world with the childlike wonder and gratitude that comes so easily to you.

 

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Some typical Finn moments

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Adding laughter with love and affection

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A screenshot of his Instagram feed as P1nn_. Every single video will make you laugh out loud.

A couple stand outs from his senior year…

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Finn did his best impersonation of his Uncle Joe’s senior portrait from 1975, which included using hair dye on his mustache.

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Matching lab coats and eye patches with his favorite science teacher.

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Photobombing the anime club as Pikachu (and they let him).

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Joining the staff photo at the Serra High School Winter Formal. Finn is seated to the right of the principal, Dr. Renfree, and was mistaken for her husband on at least one occasion. 

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Senior swim night with Daniella, a huge fan of Finn’s humor

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Founding member of the Bike Friday, which includes a stop at the donut store on their way to school. Some days they had a dozen friends ride along. Pictured here with JT, Harley and TJ.

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One of Finn’s favorite self-portraits. I don’t know why. 

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Want to guarantee Finn’s joy and laughter? Just add water.

A Birthday Life

 

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I know this is a kind of strange and unpleasant image. It wasn’t exactly where I thought I’d start this post, but it’s kind of fitting.

I woke up this morning, feeling under fire, kind of like you do on a Monday morning, when the weekend has sucked up every last ounce of your time and energy. I set my alarm, said my prayers, and started making lunch for my kids. There was only a heel of bread, enough turkey for one kid, expired mayonnaise and an apple that looked good on the outside, but was turning dark in the middle. But don’t worry! After fifteen years of making lunches, these things are not a problem. It’s a simple matter of sleight of hand and a confident presentation.

But twenty minutes later, as I was cleaning up the kitchen, a lesson caught up with me. As I poured expired milk down the drain, I saw the brown center of the apple, peeking out from under the dishes. Oops! That was a #signoflove, but who’s got the time? I dumped out the cold coffee pot. It didn’t move. I turned on the water and hit the garbage disposal button, but still Love didn’t budge.

Okay. I get it.

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If Love remains in the compost pile of a dirty kitchen sink, then Love remains in the compost pile of our lives. Apparently, this was a message I needed to hear.

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 45. I looked in the mirror. I didn’t love what I saw, so I looked around and I liked that a lot better.

I saw a husband, who is also my best friend. He’s the provider of stability and sound advice, but also the purveyor of all things creative and silly.

I saw three kids, each unique in their gifts and their challenges, but unified in their love for me and each other.

I saw countless friends and family who remembered me with texts, messages, phone calls and cards.

I looked around this morning and saw that I didn’t have a birthday “day.”

I have a birthday life.

Everyday, I can wake up and celebrate.

In the predawn darkness, I have a warm body lying next to me, a heart keeping time with mine.

In the silence and stillness of the morning, I sit with God and remember I am Loved.

In the busyness of my days, I have work to do and a healthy body and mind to do it.

In the fall of the evening, I have the privileges of my life to be grateful for and the hope of getting to do it all over again tomorrow.

Amidst all those daily routines, I also have access to hot coffee and cold beer, not to mention clean water and fresh food. There are sunny skies and good people in my life who bring me laughter and conversation and full-bodied hugs, any time I need them. The Pacific Ocean is only ten minutes away and I have a car with gas in it!

Who gets to live this life?

I do!

That’s what I remembered this morning.

This life is a gift. It’s mine; it’s the only one I’ll ever get and I want to celebrate it – all of it – even the stuff I didn’t ask for.

No one gets everything they want, or keeps everything they have. I may prefer to smile, but tears have something to teach me as well, as do hard conversations and unpleasant truths. While I tend to shove those packages to the back of the pile, sometimes they’re the greatest gifts of all, because they give me the opportunity to rediscover who I am and who I want to be.

At 45, I just want to be grateful, but I’m not always.

I just want to be here, but I often fantasize about being somewhere else.

I just want to Love, but instead, I close up shop when I’m feeling lazy.

At 45, I have a birthday life, but I don’t appreciate it as much as I should.

So, that #signoflove in the dirty sink?

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Yeah, thanks for that Universe, as well as everyone else who reminded me of my birthday life and helps me live it. You’re the gift that just keeps on giving and for that, I’m grateful.