Why So Serious?

Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Joker in The Dark Knight haunts me as I write this post. I hear him whisper in his creepy tone: “Why so serious?” An interesting question in an incredibly serious film, released in a very serious time.

Life is serious. All it takes is a glimpse at today and the headlines scream seriousness:

The world seems to be falling apart: jobs are disappearing, people are dying from diseases (cancer sucks), our food is being recalled, poverty is a world-wide epidemic, energy sources are failing, even our cartoons aren’t safe anymore.

As I took my wife to work this morning, I drove past a high school bus stop and every student waiting for the bus had a glazed look of exhaustion. Yes, it was early, but I couldn’t help but think about how much kids do today, as opposed to when I was in high school. Kids are involved in so many things that they don’t have time to be kids. We are brought into a very serious world at a young age, what does that do to us as adults? We have mid-life crises a lot sooner. We defy commitment as long as possible. We become merit badge spiritualists, more interested in collecting rewards and patches that prove that we are good people. Yet, we are dead on the inside.

I love asking weird and random questions. This morning I asked my friend Ryan, “do you have room in your life for silliness?” The reason that I asked the question is because Ryan just went through some very serious cancer treatments (cancer sucks) and I was curious if he was able to enjoy moments of silliness now that he is on the other side of those treatments. I also asked the question because I struggle with allowing myself to be silly, and I wanted someone else’s perspective on what it means to be silly.

Ryan said that it is much easier to be silly now that he is on the other side of the treatments. I can understand that. When life is serious, it’s hard to have a proper view of what it means to allow silliness to break the invading force of seriousness.

Is it wrong to have a silly thought in the midst of despair? I can’t help but think of Jesus and the fact that he was human. Did he fart? Was he silly? I like to believe that he was, primarily because his first public miracle was turning water into wine. There was a man that loved to party. Partying is silly.

Someone else this morning said that silliness helps to break the monotony of the day. He even said that some days he would wear just his underwear on the off-chance that someone would stop by and he could answer the door wearing nothing but his underwear. I’m not brave enough to do that, but that is silly. It made me smile.

Other things that are silly to me:

  • Eating cereal for lunch and dinner. It’s not the sugar cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Cocoa Pebbles, it’s Kashi Go Lean, but it’s still silly.
  • Seeing a headline that reads: “Demi Moore tweets a topless photo.” That’s silly. Maybe I should tweet a topless photo of myself?
  • Banjos are silly as are glockenspiels.
  • My Super Mario Brothers t-shirt that I am wearing today is silly.
  • My friend Bruce loves to prank call people while I drive. That is silly. It also makes me laugh.

Ultimately, a balance between silliness and seriousness is necessary for living a functional, purposeful life. Without silliness, the seriousness of life will slowly kill you—emotionally, spiritually, maybe even physically. Without a healthy dose of seriousness, it is hard to be taken seriously by others and not everyone appreciates everything being a joke. However, if I am going to err on one side of this continuum, I want to be silly. Unfortunately, I am too serious to be silly. Seriously.