Time for the Sillies
By Jane Tawel
Silliness – is defined as engaging in “a ludicrous folly”, showing a “lack of good sense or judgment”, or “the condition of being frivolous, trivial, or superficial”.
Silliness: 1.weak-minded or lacking good sense; stupid or foolish:a silly writer. 2.absurd; ridiculous; irrational:a silly idea. 3.stunned; dazed:He knocked me silly 4.Archaic. rustic; plain; homely. 5.Archaic. weak; helpless. 6.Obsolete. lowly in rank or state; humble.
Synonyms: witless, senseless, dull-witted, dim-witted. 2. inane, asinine, nonsensical, preposterous.
I am blessed to have friends of all ages and at all stages. About a week ago a friend was telling me something she and her young son did that was silly. And it made me ache remembering my young children and our silly times. Sometimes the silly times included me and sometimes I just over -heard the silly times. My family and I are all quite serious now it seems about each other and life. I miss grabbing a hold of my little goofballs’ grubby chubby arms and giggling, “Come here you sillies!”
When Did They Get So Serious?
The current definitions of “silly” or “silliness” do not seem to consider it a preferable or admirable state of being. I don’t think the people who wrote these definitions were mothers. Or maybe they were never children. There are many types of humor, all necessary and needed and holy in their place. Even making fun of others can be helpful as we strive to burst the serious balloons of politicians, dictators or just good old fashioned meanies. I read recently that if only the German nation had had a collective sense of humor, they might have laughed Hitler out of the country before he could turn most of them into serious serial killers. (For laughing at Hitler, watch “Rat Race”). I like satire, and improv and wit and almost any humor; But I do not think silliness should be only a hallmark of childhood humor.
I have a friend at work. His name is Charles and he teaches History. Not a silly subject you might think. AND he is ex- marine, pretty serious right? But what I absolutely thank God for and so admire and love about Charles is that he is silly with me. It started with his wanting to find a way to get his unruly students out of the classroom and so he would send them to my office with “The Box of Knowledge”. The Box of Knowledge was often empty. Sometimes it would have Charles’ Marine Manuals in it. Sometimes a blank piece of paper. The students always thought they were in trouble and / or doing something very important and would come quite seriously into my office. It helps that there is an important title on the door. (Another silly thing we humans do if you think about it.) The students had no idea what was in The Box of Knowledge and were a little scared to come, until they realized that bringing the Box of Knowledge got them a big smile from me at Charles’ silliness and also a chocolate from me. (It also of course got them out of class for a breather.) Charles knows that it is good for adult friends to share silliness so their minds don’t implode from their serious jobs. Charles also realizes that even very serious high schoolers (and if you are not around high schoolers much, let me tell you, they take themselves super duper seriously)—even they need silliness and often they are unruly because their teachers and their parents and their girlfriends and their homies have all gotten so doggone deadly serious.
When I taught 9th and 10th graders sometimes I would get frustrated when they behaved like little kids. But then I realized, hey, there’s a little kid in all of us just whining to get out sometimes. So I would in my most sickly sweet pre-school teacher voice and with my finger pointing at my eyes, shout, “One – Two- Three, Eyes on Me”. And they would quite happily shout back, “One –Two, eyes on you.” Once I went further and said, “Criss-cross applesauce.” And several of them asked if they could please sit criss-cross applesauce. You would have thought when I said okay that I had given them a new puppy; they were so pleased. And they were better behaved, big sixteen year old young men and made- up, coifed young ladies–sitting there like three -year -olds on the floor while studying “The Odyssey”.
My son Gordon loves silly humor and some of the best silly friends in the whole world. I am so happy for the times he shares his silliness with his mom and it is our joy during these turbulent teen years to set aside Geometry or English and watch “Key and Peele” or “Psyche” or Nigahiga.
Gordon and his Mom were always a bit silly:
You know if you look at the definition of “silly” and you look at who Jesus was, He was downright silly. He was: “lowly in rank, humble”, “plain, homely”, and of course “foolish” in the world’s estimation. He was never “dim-witted” of course, nor “asinine or inane”, but boy, oh, boy was He “preposterous”!
Have you noticed how much people have to let go of when they let themselves be silly? It’s why our best comedians, the ones whose humor is super intelligent but super funny are our silliest. Think of your favorite comedian and you will see I am right. It is why children are so good at being silly. It is partly because children’s pride is not developed to the level of adults. Their ego is small, like them, and silliness comes naturally. It is also because they are relational without working at it and silliness must come out of a wild freedom with the person you are with. Aren’t you often able to be silliest with those you have known since childhood? You have been together in ways that aren’t even part of your consciousness, and so you have a freedom to not over think, to not over control (either the friend or yourself) and a freedom to know that no matter how “dim-witted” you may act, tomorrow that person will still be your friend.
You will notice in the above definitions of silly, the example used in the number one definition is: “a silly writer”. I guess this post will prove once and for all how “ridiculous” I am, because I am actually right now in my own insecure, misguided, silly way, bragging about being a silly writer. Francis Bacon, someone I don’t really think of as a silly writer wrote: “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.” Our God-given sense of humor helps us accept our limitations while allowing us to keep dreaming of our passions being fulfilled. If we take ourselves too seriously, we are missing how silly we are to think we can do anything on our own. Our humor helps us give up a bit of our own control and allow God to laughingly guide us. Silliness is about freedom. And in Christ we have complete freedom. We do not have freedom to maliciously hurt someone else, even if we wish they would take the stick out of you- know- where and be silly for a moment. But we have freedom to be childlike – needy, a little uncertain, bold, creative, hugely loving, and fantastically silly. We should always remember, that our silliness was bought at a great price, and so we should use our silliness, just as we should use all our gifts from God, for Good and not for Evil. But we should, just like with all good gifts, cultivate, nurture and care for our sense of the absurd, our laughing at well, why pin it down? laughing at maybe nothing at all, and our sense of silliness. I have found if you don’t take care of your child-like sillies, they will shrivel up and die and all you will be left with are the willies and the bill-ies.
My silly husband and me:
I love silly writers. I love the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes. I love Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss – both of whom are super intelligent, brilliant silly poets. I love Charles Dickens, he is so silly sometimes you laugh out loud. I love Anne Tyler, Douglas Adams, Oscar Wilde. I love Napoleon Dynamite, George Carlin, Robin Williams, Amy Poehler, Jeff Gaffigan, Jimmy Fallon, and Mr. Bean. I love “The Simpsons”, “The IT Crowd”, and “Parks and Rec”. I love my daughter Clarissa who inherited my side of the family’s silly genes. Clarissa and I do this pointing thing to a Dixie Chicks’ song, well…. You had to have been there. I love the silly sayings my husband and I share that no one else would understand (and that he would be mortified if I outed him about). I love my friend Heather Toole who has officially been my friend long enough and through enough that we can be quite silly with each other.
It is time I started thanking God daily for all the silly, silly people he has allowed to be in my life and my family’s lives. I am so thankful for my children’s silly friends who were always the best friends. Thank you Twyla, Grace, and David, Nathan, Caleb; Thank you Amy, Heather, Christian,Tommy, Dan, Mike, and Samanatha. Thank you to the Gordon Clan for my genes and to the Brallier cousins for sharing them with me. Thank you Deb and Zulay, Anne and Kim, Charles, and Julie, Geoff, Jen and Sandy. I would like to thank so many people for this award, tonight, but there are just too many silly friends and family members I have accumulated over the years.
Gordon and some of his silly friends
Thank you Justine, Clarissa, Gordon, Verity, and Raoul for all our shared silliness in this life. I look forward to an eternity of silliness together with the Great Silly Savior.
Here is a picture of my silly friend Heather Toole and her equally silly friend me.
The thing about silliness is – it is like a beautiful scent or sunset – you can’t keep it. Go on try it. Try to remember what was so silly it made you laugh so hard and then recreate it or tell it to someone who wasn’t there. Neither of you will be laughing. You will probably have a hard time even remembering the silly things you did or said or the silly times with your family. Silliness is not storable. Except in your heart.
My recommendation to the world on this day, February 22, 2015 when most people are sitting around watching serious actors accept serious Oscars, is “Go ye into all the world and do silly things”. We have done a pretty good job working the “Random Acts of Kindness” gig. Don’t stop that. But could we please start doing “Random Acts of Silliness”? Be a fool for Christ today. As a very silly man, Charlie Chaplin, once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Don’t waste today. Go accomplish something silly.
An Ode of Thanks for My Silly Friends
(and if you are reading this you know who you are)
by Me, Jane (Go on, say the next line)
There once was an Amish named Duckie
Who lived her whole life rather pluckie.
She planted potatoes
She lived in a house of beat-boxers
Who often ate bagels and lox-ers.
And they sang without fuss
About loving their Gus
And also saying bad “S-words”.
The parties had only just started,
While the kids danced with glee.
And then farted.
Then they cornered their besties
And had eating contesties
With really, icky, spicy, horrible combinations of things all mixed together.
Raoul and some others knew Cato
Whose Prius Hydrolics were Ghetto
Was stellar by heck
They tried her once for Russian spying
And fashions she shouldn’t be buying
And one day she’ll die
But please laugh ‘til you cry
And take her corpse
Banana tube riding.