Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Promising Survival Strategy

In the great post-election rush to find survival strategies, I think I’m onto something: Animal videos.  Funny animal videos.

The realization came to me when I stumbled across the recent video from the Toronto Zoo of a giant panda playing with a snowman.  When the panda did a pratfall after beheading the snowman, I laughed out loud for the first time since Nov, 8.

That humor is an effective weapon against pain and depression has been known for some time.  Norman Cousins, who dealt with his painful terminal illness by watching Marx Brothers movies, was a pioneer of the movement.

It would be fitting, then, for a majority of Americans to adopt his strategy as we face a future filled with pain and depression.  For Cousins was everything the Pussy Grabber and his Team of Reptiles are not: literate, intelligent, compassionate, peace-loving, advocate of nuclear disarmament, generous and kind to others, a humanist. “Life is an adventure in forgiveness,” he famously said.

While Cousins was partial to the Marxes, he recognized that “ten minutes of genuine belly laughter” however achieved had the effect of benign anesthesia.

Just what we need.  My preference for funny animal videos is based upon vast research, a survey of two friends who suffer chronic severe pain.  One, a retired lawyer, has bouts of gout.  He gets relief from petting his dog, Boots, who has learned to recognize his symptoms and offers herself up for stroking and affection.  She also understands that if she can make him laugh, it counts double,  She has mastered the art of slapstick, deliberately flubbing tricks she can do perfectly well.  Works wonders.  Another friend, suffering from arthritis pain, has built a library of funny animal videos from You Tube.  “Better than meloxicam,” she says.

A long, long time ago, my father, an avid photographer, made a movie of me as a toddler,  playing in a sandbox with a new puppy.  I was building primitive sand structures.  As I nearly finished one, puppy would dash across the yard and jump into the sandbox, destroying my sand structure.  I would push puppy out of the box, build a new thing, and puppy would repeat his dash, jump and destroy act. We repeated this several times.  Finally I took pail and shovel, climbed out of the sandbox, leaving it to puppy, and began digging in the dirt.  To this day, that old movie brings a smile or chuckle, and that’s a start.

For belly laughs, there’s the panda bear and the snowman.  A sure-fire LOL is the video of the puppy chasing his own  leash around a mulberry bush.  Puppy videos are great for belly laughs.  Clips of the “Puppy Bowl,” a TV staple around the time of the Super Bowl football game, will make you forget that after a year or so of the new regime, you won’t be able to afford to be sick any more.

Dogs are infinitely creative in the ways they play together.  Any motion picture record of canine playtime can be worth a laugh.  My late companion Saxon had a very intelligent Australian shepherd playmate he loved to romp with in a field near our house in Pennsylvania.  Saxon had invented a version of “stick” and, because it was his game, he was the undefeated champion at it in the doggy park. But Tess, his smart girlfriend, picked up the game in a trice and always won against Saxon, often by tricks that were hilarious, especially on the video replays.

There is an endless supply of funny animal videos, thanks to modern video technology.  Elephant videos, bear videos, koala videos, squirrel videos, cat videos (I am not especially keen on these), prairie dog videos, dog-with-other-species videos.  Endless.

The Pussy-Grabber is an ugly, unfunny human being.  On the other hand, even ugly dogs can be funny and lovable.  

Cancel the newspaper and magazine subscriptions!  Ignore everything that purports to be “news” on TV.  Turn off the radio except for the classical music station and re-runs of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!” Bring on those funny, furry doggies and beasties!

The country may not survive the next four years, but I will.  LOL!

PS -- I lied about not laughing since Nov. 8.  Whenever I'm "too busy" with the depressing news of the day, Brandi tries to play ball with himself.  It cracks me up every time. You're going to love the video!

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