Me: What do you think? I’m thinking of buying a fashionable face mask.
Him: Mum, they say only painters’ masks give appropriate protection.
Me: Well, it’s to protect other people from our germs too.
Him: We’re not sick. Plus they say it doesn’t work when you have facial hair, so that rules you completely out.
Me: Go away. I will no longer talk to you.
I need a laugh these days. I’ll even take something that will make me smile. I find myself scrolling through Facebook videos and stopping at comedians doing their thing. Trevor Noah. Ronny Chieng. Amy Poehler. They are as good as therapists.
Jokes are welcome now more than ever as our lockdown enters another week. My husband has a sharp wit and it’s been amusing (and somewhat annoying) to see my son developing his own sense of humour.
It’s not a novel idea. People have cultivated the ability to laugh before – even in the darkest situation.
Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, once wrote “I never would have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it liveable.”
Anna Pawelczynska, a Polish sociologist and another Holocaust survivor highlighted that a sense of humour was one important weapon of inner resistance. It could not be taken away no matter how oppressive or dire the environment.
As jets flew over and bombs dropped from the sky, a Syrian man named Abdullah al-Mohammed taught his three year old daughter, Salwa, to laugh at the sound of explosions. To laugh through her fear to make her situation bearable.
Just a few hours away by plane, in a country at peace, most of us are scrambling over toilet paper and going crazy with boredom in our comfortable homes. When we do go for a short walk around the block, we’re looking at strangers as if they are all carriers of sickness and death.
Only two weeks into the lockdown I’m starting to tire of it. All of it. The lonely deaths, the heartache of families, the exhausted health workers, the fear and suspicion of strangers.
I’ve turned off the news at home. We are now living in a bubble with just the necessary information coming through. Yet I can still feel the dread when I step outside our flat.
Well, if people who have gone before us have shown us anything, it’s this. We can always choose to do something about it. I may be powerless to change my external circumstances but I can still try and react to this as best as I can.
Frankl again wrote:
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
So, here goes.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
To practise social distancing.
Oh boy. That was bad.