“He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.” – Epictetus
The other day my husband showed me a video of a little pig with a custom-made wheel contraption so he could be mobile despite not having two back legs. The news anchor reporting on the story started to laugh uncontrollably as he read the pig’s name “Chris P. Bacon.”
The video is from 2014, so it is hardly relevant, yet somehow it is. Laughter never goes out of style. The video itself is marginally humorous with extra points for the creativity of the pig’s name. However, the laughter of the reporter, who is supposed to be a “professional” at talking, takes it to the next level of funny.
My mantra since I first saw this video has been “Chris P. Bacon”. I seldom pick mantras that are this ambiguous but every time I say it, I can’t help but smile.
Stoics are not generally thought of to be a funny lot, yet their indifference to adversity can be quite comical. What I interpret Epictetus’ quote to mean is to embrace what is known to be true and laugh at it before someone else can.
Self-deprecating humor serves a purpose. As a stoic, I strive to have thick skin and meet those who mock me with indifference. However, as an imperfect person, I am bound to be offended at some point. Humor is the great equalizer.
This morning, my husband and I, went to pick up our children from a friend’s house and I was dressed in manner that could suggest we don’t own a mirror. I was aware of my fashion faux pas but didn’t care enough to remedy it. Then while chatting with our friends I made a casual comment about my affinity to “dress like a homeless person” and my friend almost lost her mouth full of coffee due to laughter. It’s funny because it’s true.
When used in this manner humor can repel criticism by taking the power away. To make fun of my clothes after I had already done so would not have much of an impact.
The reporter could not regain his composure while reporting on Chris P. Bacon. He is unapologetic for his behavior and at one point just says, “you have to read this story” although it’s unclear who he is talking to. He is just being his authentic self, much like Chris P. Bacon, and Epictetus.
The reporter could have responded in a number of ways, but he chose to lean into the humor and be transparent.
Today, I will find ways to laugh. I will use Chris P. Bacon as my mantra and use my reflective moments for humor. I will remember the words of Epictetus and always try to find the humor in my own defects.
Here’s the link to the video: Chris P. Bacon