Friday, October 16, 2009

The Difference Between Laughing and Crying

 I think (I hope) that every one of us has laughed so hard that tears come to our eyes. I've had this happen several times over the past week, and it's reminded me that sometimes the tears threaten to take over. It's a bit bizarre, but it's as if I'm laughing so desperately I could literally start crying my eyes out. I can remember a bouldering trip at Rumbling Bald in North Carolina that about eight of us went on, and we were all were sitting around under a giant overhanging boulder talking about nothing in particular. Someone said something that made me giggle, and then someone else added to it, or I did, who knows--but after a minute I was laughing so hard I was completely controlled by it. I couldn't stop if my life depended on it, and began to wonder if this was what insanity was like. Tears were streaming down my face. Everyone else had stopped after a couple of minutes, but at the sight of me on the ground crying my eyes out they fell in again, too, soon enough. No one was as unhinged as me, though. I couldn't even control my face. I knew it looked more like I was in pain than anything, and by this point it was merciless. Laughing, laughing, laughing, gasping for breath. Ten minutes later I had forced it down enough that heavy breathing could mostly take its place, but it had left its mark, and for the next hour I had to resist any urge to let a giggle escape lest I be forced to surrender completely again.

My stomach hurts just thinking about it.