Why can TV sitcoms be funny while life is painful?
Could it be that we don’t feel the pain of a circumstance when we are watching it on TV while we do when we are going through it? When the circumstance isn’t ours, it can be uproariously funny. But when it is, and we are in the midst of it, we often feel only pain and confusion.
Let me explain what is prompting this… we have a neighbour with some annoying and disruptive behaviours. Behaviours that are often carried on late at night or early in the morning. Behaviours involving noise and a lack of consideration for others peace, time, and energy.
These behaviours are not illegal, one can do nothing about them, and they have been going on for years, much to the upset of several neighbours.
This week, the disruptive neighbour complained to my wife and I about our friends parking on the street in front of her house. Basically saying we were disrupting her. Now, where our friends parked, and it was only for an hour, was near a part of her house that nobody ever goes, does not block access, and frankly is neglected. But, for some reason, she complained to us and even placed rocks on the gravel shoulder to prevent anyone from parking where she didn’t want.
My wife was furious. I was ticked. We thought of calling bylaw enforcement since the rocks were technically on public land, only a few inches from the paved public road, and frankly a danger. Plus, there still was no law against our friends parking for short periods by her house.
We schemed, strategized, and fumed over it for maybe a couple hours. We thought of reporting her to bylaw enforcement, throwing the rocks in her pool, hiding them, and a variety of other energy-sucking schemes. Then it occurred to me, if this were an episode of, say, ‘Home Improvement’ with Tim Allen, it would be awfully funny. I began to picture this as a scene from home improvement, where some unreasonable, disruptive neigbour could be accusing Tim and his family of being disruptive and then making a silly gesture to make their point.
I sat down with my wife and shared the notion and she too began to laugh. I then asked her, “Are we really going to declare a Jihad over all of this”? And also, “How much of our energy are we prepared to give this… even just to fume”?. And finally, “How about, instead of being mad, we find a way to have fun with this”?
So, at a time when the neighbours were mostly at work, I simply walked over and moved the rocks about 6″ further away from the street and more onto her lawn. A day later, another 6″, and then another and another.
Each time we laughed and genuinely had a good time with it. I even had a slight inkling that I hoped the neighbour would catch me so this could really turn into a farce. Here I am, a late-40’s suburban Dad, husband, business-owner, and responsible, tax-paying member of society, sneaking over playing the rock game.
So today, the rocks are a safe distance from the street and, in fact, well onto her un-kept lawn, and she seems none the wiser. Our friends park there with ease and even join in on the laughter of what has been going on.
Do we not have at least somewhat of a choice as to how much pain we feel over unfair situations? If we remove ourselves from the inconvenience of it all, and treat it as if it were the silliest sitcom we know, wouldn’t it be just plain funny? And wouldn’t we save ourselves a whole lot of grief and emotional energy by doing so?
I can’t account for all of life’s circumstances, but in this one, we did 🙂