Boldly seeking something and remembering to laugh.

Life will become obnoxiously real if you aren’t careful. This is not to imply that life is somehow a joke but rather to illustrate the fact that our brains are often our worst enemies and one must remember to keep it in check, preferably with humor.

Tonight my oldest son had a brush with death, or so he thought. I could see the panic in his eyes as he explained to me that something was wrong.

“I don’t feel good.” he said, clutching his stomach and doing his best to hold back tears.

“Go to the bathroom!” I said, instinctively after now hundreds of what should have been avoidable puke stains. I followed him in and sat down on a stool. I assumed the most relaxed position I could and then calmly asked him what specifically felt wrong. He couldn’t breath right, his stomach kind of hurt and his throat was on fire.

He was breathing pretty fast and he looked to be in a lot of pain. These are all symptoms of something potentially terrible but I knew that he tried his first spicy Chicken sandwich at lunch and ate about 7 mini peanut butter cups before dinner tonight, which was spaghetti with spicy Italian sausage. He wasn’t dying like he thought, he had heartburn.

Of course I was able to find humor in the scenario because I know how bad heartburn can hurt and I know it doesn’t kill you. But if you’ve never had heartburn before, I imagine that it is an exclusively terrifying experience.

This, to me, is a metaphor for life. What we don’t intimately know can be terrifying by it’s strangeness alone. Yet to live is to seek out unexplored lands.

I gave my son some Tums and I cracked some jokes to put him at ease while the Tums took time to kick in. This worked. Then the Tums worked. Crisis averted.

But there was never a real crisis at all. What I hope is that my son will learn the importance of keeping his mind in check. Life gets scary sometimes if you can’t reign in the impulse to be paralyzed by worry. Sometimes your brain is your worst enemy. This is when you need to laugh the most because laughter reminds you that stuff is actually ok.

Life is, I think in many ways, a test about how well we can manage our fear. Keep that in check and you will discover new horizons. Remember to laugh and you may enjoy the voyage as well.