There are some people in life who always seem to look on the bright side of any situation. My father-in-law, Allen, was one of them.
No matter what was happening, he was always the one making a joke or finding the humor in a situation. He rarely (ever?) let things get him angry. Here is a short list of some of the humor thrown my way:
- He convinced me that Pennsylvania-based Yuengling beer was “weird stuff from China” that he got from a friend—and then chuckled at me when I told him it tasted like any other beer I’d had.
- He rigged a light-activated electronic spider to jump out of one of the ceiling tiles—and then cracked up at the screams he produced by sending me to fetch something from the rigged room.
- He repeated the process by rigging a light-activated singing Christmas tree.
- On countless occasions, he stated strange facts so matter-of-factly that I could rarely tell right away whether he was joking—always keeping me on my toes.
- This dead-pan humor was repeated on countless occasions with wait staff at restaurants, family friends, and random strangers.
But everywhere, he brought a smile.
The world is random. Not every day goes the way we expect it to go. In many ways, the happiness we find in life comes from how we react to life’s random events. Talking to a friend when reminiscing about Allen, here’s an anecdote that exemplifies the way Allen saw things:
He was working at his desk, fixing watches or clocks, when a stack of glass bottles fell (or possibly was knocked over by his dog). It came crashing to the floor, the distinct sound of breaking glass ringing through the area. Allen kept his head down, finished placing the part he was working on, and then looked up matter-of-factly and said in a slow, calm voice, “I do believe those bottles have collapsed.” In true Allen fashion, he turned back to his work without a smile, withholding the laughter until just the right moment, at which point he joined his friend in laughter.
I can think of many alternative ways to react to a pile of broken bottles, and they certainly wouldn’t bring laughter to anyone.
I’ve seen how human emotions can be contagious, but for some reason it seems that hatred and anger are easier things to “catch.” So I propose finding one thing to do each day to spread happiness or laughter to ourselves and to others. If everyone added just one more moment of laughter to the day, think of how the world might echo. There would be more chuckling. More smiles.
Everyone would be a little more like Allen.
Freedom Forge Press recently published an anthology of freedom-themed stories dedicated to Allen. You can read the dedication here, written by his son. We’ve also set up a scholarship fund in Allen’s name to benefit students from the Pennsylvania area (where he grew up) who plan to pursue a degree in engineering. If you’re interested in donating or learning more, you can visit the A E Egger Memorial Scholarship website here.
Thanks for reading, and happy Friday!