The Saving Power of Silly

I’ve seen Missy the Charmer, Missy the Artist, even Missy the Ninja. But once in a while, our amazing lady decides to be Missy the Rebel instead.

Toothbrushes are firmly handed back, or dropped in the sink. “No.”

A sit-down strike begins at bedtime. “Don’t wan’.”

A storm begins on waking up, where every little thing seems to be wrong. “Noo!”

Sometimes it takes reason. Sometimes it takes time. Most of the time it’s challenging. When a disabled adult isn’t happy about something, but has trouble forming the words to say why, it often leaves you to go on guess, or inference, or memory.

Thankfully, on the stormiest days, I’ve got an ace in the hole. You see, I’m not just Scott the Writer, Scott the Guardian, or even Scott the Amateur Actor.

I’m also, when I need to be, Scott the Irritatingly Silly.

“Hi.”

Missy turns away, shaking her head.

“Hiiiii.” (Little kid voice)

Missy’s face scrunches, one hand making the “go away” gesture.

“Hiii.” (Gollum voice)

More waves, but now she’s fighting a smile.

“Hiii.” (Monster voice.)

The smile wins, turns into giggles.

“Isn’t he awful?” my wife Heather says from behind me, smiling herself. The impressions keep coming, Mel Blanc with twice the energy and half the talent, until all of us are laughing helplessly – Missy included.

What can I say? Silly works.

I’m not always sure why.  But I know it’s true of more than just Missy. Sometimes, at my own moments of low ebb and lower motivation, all it takes is a bit of the ridiculous to get my balance back. One recent round of the blues was shattered beyond repair by a long exchange of jokes about turning The Lord of the Rings into social media “click-bait.” (“Nine People Who Decided They Could Just Walk Into Mordor, And The Surprising Results!”)

OK, I’m a geek. But you get the idea.

Mind you, I wouldn’t try this at a funeral or to someone with chronic depression. But sometimes we just get ourselves on a feedback loop. Annoyance leads to annoyance, frustration to frustration, and each new irritant is harder to get rid of because we haven’t unloaded all the old ones yet. You know you’re grinding yourself down, but you’re not quite sure how to stop – sort of like being a Rockies fan in mid-July.

At a moment like that, it’s not always a bad thing to throw a wrench into the gears.

And silly makes a great wrench.

It interrupts the cycle. It reaches past the wall of thoughts and tweaks the instincts, for an immediate reaction. It turns the world upside down for a second, and gives you a new, more ridiculous angle.

It gives you permission to laugh. No, that’s not quite right. It surprises you into a laugh, and takes permission for granted.

Done right, that surprise moment of feeling good can start a new feedback cycle. One that leads in a better direction.

Maybe it’s appropriate that I’m thinking of this at Super Bowl season. After all, what could be sillier than watching a few dozen men in bright orange juggling a football? But for many, it reaches to the emotions in a different way, pushing aside other concerns in a burst of sheer exhilaration.

Instead of brooding on the past, or chewing on the future, you’re in the moment. And the moment doesn’t seem so bad.

Does it really work? Ask Missy sometime if you like.

Make sure to say hi.

One Reply to “The Saving Power of Silly”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree. Beth is regularly heard to say “silly Grandad”. And when I hear that, I smile. My job is done.

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