Search Suzanne Crone


Whipper Snapper!

Posted in Adventures With Humans


I’ve been a meditator, off and on, for decades. There have been times when I’ve allowed the discipline to wane–I don’t know that I meditated specifically sitting on a cushion with my eyes closed while driving back and forth across Canada, but rather stood awestruck–an eyes-open meditation perhaps, at any view of the Rocky Mountains, prairie fields, or moments at the edge of the Pacific, or Lake Superior. Of course, I tucked back to it during Covid and found it helpful in my efforts to stay just this side of insanity. After a rather brutal shift over 2023, I’ve looked into ways to deepen my practice. Ideally, some form that would allow me to come unglued from this body and become pure consciousness would be a relief; do I really need to get a new goddam hip? Recently I discovered a teacher on Youtube. I liked his perspective on the power of the mind, so I decided to try some of his guided meditations, knowing how risky this was. For a while, back when I used to run, which to me, and many, is another form of meditation, I would listen to music, but found that one mediocre song in my playlist could ruin my jam, so I left my ipod at home. Sitting in meditation is similar. A crummy sound, overlaid with an annoying narrator can ruin your jam here too, but what if the experience is so ridiculous that it’s funny? I’ve never had a guided meditation make me laugh before, but when this one started, the man’s voice was so brusque that all I could think of was when the Wizard of Oz says, “Silence, whippersnapper!” I laughed out loud and had to consider whether to continue. I did continue, because I was curious as hell. The experience reminded me of the whole mystery of being spoken to by some unseen entity, or a burning bush, and the wrong assumption that whatever is behind the veil has no sense of humour.
It’s difficult to keep a light perspective on the world these days unless you pass intimations of civilization all the way to absurd. I ran out to pick up some groceries after the previous paragraph, and stopped by the town pond to look at the swans. They took to the air as I made my way to the shore, and I watched as they flew directly overhead, their great feet pulled in and pointed in elegance. The moment of beauty was trashed when they honked. When horses speak, nobody comments on how odd it sounds because horses sound like horses should. Cattle, the same. Dogs and cats are pretty much good. Foxes are bonkers, as if they’ve been breathing helium, so that’s nuts. Swans sound like they’re part of a circus, their honking discordant with the sleek lines and graceful attitude of their bodies. It’s a guttural sound that you’d think would be followed by a hork. I laughed of course, glad that there was no hork.
Later in the day, a friend described the behaviour of a schizophrenic acquaintance whom she was trying to help. On one day, the struggling woman arrived at my friend’s home to deliver a very special package, scanning the surrounding area as she walked from her car to the front door in case someone was ‘on to her.’ She held the package up for my friend to take, and when asked about its’ contents, she replied, “It’s all of my remotes.” When my friend told me about this, we both burst out laughing; nothing is funny about mental illness, but everything is funny about “all of my remotes.” You have to be with the right person to laugh at this, someone who is not a dick and assumes that you’re laughing at the illness. This reminded me of a scenario back in 2007. My younger son had suffered a broken femur while he and my older son were moving wood for my elderly mother who was at that time, still living on our family farm. While the paramedics were on their way, I was tending to my son and asked my mother to bring me the phone in case I needed to get advice in the interim. She disappeared into the farmhouse, came out, and handed me the television remote. It was startling at the time, clear to me that, as per usual, she was not able to offer any meaningful support. Afterward, when my son’s leg was healed, the story of the television remote was funny. It was plain funny to others; to me it was funny, but of course the hilarity was underlaid with more of my repeated disappointments of my family, and there’s the secret, I think; anyone with a decent sense of humour, has some emotional acuity, some depth, and perhaps a broader knowledge of the world, at least this is so in my experience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told the story of my mother’s offering of the television remote, and been met with judgement about how she was doing her best, instead of seeing the story details for what they were, funny. Of course I know that she was trying her best. It’s exhausting.
Years back, while living in an old Victorian house in a small town, I was ‘doing my best’ to deal with a few mice. For some reason, I had forgone my dependable wooden, Victory traps for something sleeker, more humane. I set the trap, and when I went back into the basement to check on it, I found it sprung, and full of a mouse. The poor guy was very much alive, his bulging eyes looking at me, while the rest of his little body was held in a position not unlike Jesus on the cross; his little arms were extended straight out to the sides. His spine had to have been broken; I didn’t have the fortitude to release him into the yard, immobile, in pain, and figure on some crow finishing him off, instead, I decided that I had to do it. I filled a bucket with water, took a deep breath, apologized, and put the fella in. Then I watched as he floated, as if the trap was doubling as a little mousey flotation device and here we were at the pool. To be honest, I don’t remember how he finally died, whether I put something on top of him to hold him under, of whether he simply sank, but to this day, I see his little form, arms outstretched, doing laps around the bucket. Was this funny? I did roll my eyes.  I don’t like seeing animals in pain, but when it was over, I saw the absurdity, the irony, and on a certain scale, the interminable difficulty of being a human on this planet. The funny part was in the paradox of trying to do my best, but to have my efforts met with something even more challenging as if the universe was laughing at me a little, as if even it had a quality of humour.  When I tell people this story, there are some who miss the point and rally for the mouse as if that consideration never occurred to me; a little credit over here, please. Even with my ex-husband, there were circumstances that were wince-worthy in the moment, but also comedy gold. He had back issues, and one day, cobbled together a harness made out of a leather dog leash that he secured to the eye screw in the upper part of a door frame from which we would hang the Jolly Jumper, a suspended bouncing contraption for our kids when they were small. I was sitting reading in a corner of the room, and with peripheral vision could see my ex hanging in his rig, the leash supporting him underneath his arms so that he could relax his body in an effort to decompress his spine. His plan worked for a minute or two, but then the screw let go and he dropped like a sack of shoes, the screw hitting him in the head as a final insult. He wasn’t injured, other than the knock on the head. I, on the other hand, had sore ribs the next day from laughing until I cried. Had he been seriously injured, I would have tended to him right away, but he was fine. In the effort to try something out, the event turned into a physical gag, like something steeped in Dick Van Dyck, arranged to make both of us laugh.
Not so long ago, while tending my elderly mother, I got to know the staff at a small pharmacy in town. We would talk and laugh together while I picked up whatever. One day, I was waiting in my social distancing place, and overheard a man at the counter talk with the pharmacist. He was picking up some kind of powerful cream that was to eradicate who-knows-what. The pharmacist asked him where the cream was being applied, and the man answered, “It’s for my wife.” Yes, I know that he was merely picking up the cream for his wife and wasn’t sure of its’ target, but I didn’t take it that way. Instead, I took it as the cream was to be used to get rid of “his wife,” and I began laughing right away. When he departed the store, I explained what I had heard and was delighted when I was no longer the only one in the room almost crying from laughter.
There’s a part of me that loved the experience with the blustery meditation narrator, the one that made me laugh. Initially, I didn’t laugh. I was meditating not because everything was just fine, but because I was trying to change my life. I was lonely and broke, and was serious about doing all that I could to encourage and nurture a better me, someone more competent, more appealing. When I heard the voice, I did my best to ignore the ridiculous tone and stay quiet on my cushion, but a part of me–the part that I think has my back wouldn’t have it. Becoming so precious, so serious that you can’t parse an offering and see that there might be better ways to nourish your inner self, is exactly what I did not want. Perhaps part of comedy is finding yourself faced with something out of your control. I suppose terror might be the same, only it would have a home on the opposite end of the scale, the not so fun end. I was surprised by the crummy narrator, and the swan honk, and my mother’s television remote, my Jesus mouse, my husband crumpled on the floor, and the man with the medication cream for his wife. It was as if I was being tapped on the shoulder, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” but also, “this is funny!”