While the wildly unreasonable, the wholly illogical, the completely inappropriate played out about me, I'd sit back, hands behind my head, my indulgent smile signaling how much I secretly savored it.
While others complained, seeking fairness, reason and sportsmanlike conduct, I clucked and chuckled, shaking my head, reminding them that we are humans, not machines, that we live in a place called the Real World, not Fantasyland, and that we have a choice: accept absurdity, and find it amusing, or fight absurdity, and get used to losing.
A man of the world, I made my peace with the inevitability of absurdity.
Or so I thought.
Last week I awoke as if from a dream, a nightmare really, to realize I'd lost my sense of humor. I was earnestly answering her question, explaining why I thought it wasn't so, when she stopped me and told me to relax, it's just a joke. And then I replayed our encounter, the events that preceded it, the other strands of activity that defined my life for the past few months and I saw that I'd marinated in absurdity so long it had eroded my protective walls, overwhelming my defenses, scrambling my systems and undermining my foundation.
Adrift on a sea of absurdity, having lost my bearings, I could no longer confidently separate absurdity from normalcy, for when all around you is absurd, the absurd becomes normal and the normal becomes absurd. And when your sense of humor depends on your ability to discern and appreciate those deviations from normalcy that define the absurd, and then you lose the ability to distinguish the absurd from normal, you find that what made you laugh now makes you cringe, and what made you cringe now makes you laugh, but only in a ruefully reluctant way. Not funny at all.
In fact, maintaining any separation from absurdity is serious business, one that furrows my brow with anxious determination, the furthest reaction there can be from my prior indulgent amusement. It's a struggle beating it back, especially the most virulent strains, those most patently absurd absurdities that really put the absurd in absurdity.
I believe more than ever in the inevitability of absurdity, and futility of fighting it, for I have come to appreciate that to laugh at it is to deny it, to counter it is to contort yourself to match it, to engage with it is to invite it in.
I am not sure what to do, other than retreat and detach. While absurdity piles on top of absurdity in much of my life, a few areas refreshingly remain free of absurdity. I will seek solace there. And when I venture into the land of absurdity, as I fear I must from time to time, I will protect myself with the thickest armor of detachment I can devise.
Although this is no laughing matter, to me at least, I hope that this routine will eventually restore my balance, permit me to once again see the absurd as absurd and the normal as normal, and maybe restore my sense of humor to a state where it finds at least the mild absurdities amusing again. From a safe distance.