Smile at Death, but Laugh at the Joker

happy child clown laughing out loud

I will never expect anything again. Wow, just saying that feels like a thousand springs exhaling on my cheek. And having officially renounced expectations, I feel that my life will never be the same.

“Life is just a candle, and a dream; must give it flame.” Rush, the silently powerful and hauntingly singular band out of Canada, wrote that. But how we decide to give it flame is the question of questions. Since death smiles at us all, we might smile back, as Marcus Aurelius said. But what about the Joker? We must not forget about him.

The Joker is a metaphor for circumstances. We scheme and plan and dream and fret, but life has a way of turning out differently, doesn’t it? If the Buddhists are right, then we create all of our own suffering …

SO STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We must laugh back at the Joker. The Joker is really a lot of fun. The problem is that we don’t get his humor because we are not fans of pranks. Well, my friends, we must become fans of pranks. Pranks are most entertaining when you can laugh at them.

Someone has shown up around the corner and thrown a pie in your face (e.g., you didn’t get that promotion, your book got a bad review, and so on, and so forth). What do you do? You get pissed off. I don’t blame you at all. The Joker’s prank is upsetting. But this is only because you expected something different.

An old college roommate of mine, barely past twenty years of age, told me one day, “I no longer live with any expectations at all.” I thought he was insane. I didn’t understand at the time. Now I realize he is a total genius.

What was my rock bottom?

This fall has been quite a challenge. Why? Because I chose to try to release a book and become a functional expert at the German language at the same time. Well, I didn’t really choose this; I had planned to release the final book in the Captain Shelby Trilogy before I knew of the language requirement that is now a part of German residency.

I wasn’t laughing at all.

But now I am.

By choosing to laugh at the pie on my face, my whole perspective has changed. Now I feel like a little boy partying with the Joker. And it’s a lot of fun! We’re playing games together like, “Let’s See What New Opportunities this New Set of Circumstances Brings” and “Let’s See What New Dance we can Learn to this Unexpected Song.”

Hey, I’m not saying it’s all roses. I don’t even know if my book will come out before Christmas. I also don’t know if I’ll pass the German course. But this I do know: I’m having a lot of fun. I’m learning a lot more about myself and life. In the integration course I’m taking, I’ve become friends with actual refugees seeking asylum. I’m even thinking about volunteering next year to help better integrate refugees, perhaps even finding further inspiration and words for a song (which I’ve already started).

I’ve learned that publishing a book is really an act of faith with a faithful prayer team. We’re all praying together but don’t know what the heck is going to happen. And when my new book’s out, it could rocket or tank. But if I knew what was going to happen, perhaps it wouldn’t be very much fun at all.

It’s such a pity that we all incarcerate ourselves with the prison bars of expectations. In fact, we’re all prisoners, only with different-sized prisons.

Break free! Let’s do it together!

The next time the Joker pulls a prank on you, turn to him and laugh back. It’s the best medicine you’ll ever take … trust me. Besides, I don’t think I’d want the mundane life of existence without the Joker, would you?

Yours in pranks,

J.G.C.

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