She Always Smiles

Paradisaea #14 // The Falling Back Into Life Collection
100 % cotton:
cotton (EC)
Weft: mercerised cotton, hand dyed by me in multiple colours
(+ a bit of polyester glitter in the warp)
Woven with a two-sided twill and plainweave combination, the standard "m-twill"

 Size 5 (420 x 72 cm)
321 g / m2
Blunt ends

This wrap was named specifically for the family who as given it a home;
the name carries a memory of joy from their lives.

“What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” // An old yiddish proverb

I wanted this last Falling Back Into Life wrap to speak of laughter - the spontaneous, practically uncontrollable joy that bursts out as laughter and sweeps us happily off our feet. I wanted this wrap to carry a message of giggles, a story of cracking up, a tale of rolling on the floor with laughter. I set out to dye the weft yarn in colours that would resemble laughter - bright, happy, unexpected in arrangement, joyous.

Why? Because there cannot be real life without joy. There’s no real Life without laughter.

When I speak of joy I mean the good laughter, the safe and happy one, the one where no-one is mocked or gets hurt. That kind of joy is a massive gift. I believe we are created to be creatures of joy, more than anything else. I like to think that joy should be the defining emotion in our lives, not stress, anxiety, fear or anger - simply because the fruit of joy and laughter is so much better than that of any those other feelings.

Studies have shown that laughter can heal lives in many ways. It has multiple physiological benefits. It strengthens the immune system, boosts energy, diminishes pain and protects us from the damaging effects of stress. It also takes the mind off negative things; it’s a wonderful way to lose your self control and for a moment forget all your fears and anxieties. It triggers the release of endorphines, reducing the stress-hormone cortisol levels in the body.

Laughter also heals relationships. A good laughter binds people together, creating strong happy memories. The memory of laughter stays in our brains for a long time; our kids might remember the happy moments full of laughter better than anything else (at least I hope so!).

It’s easy to claim, therefore, that we should laugh a lot and often. It’s not necessarily easy, however. Everyday life can be so full of burdens that it might be almost impossible to give in to joy - or it might feel that joy simply is nonexistent. Finding a way back to joy might be difficult, but it is possible. Exhausted with the loss of sleep, burdened with financial worries, anxious because of difficult relationships, and burdened with so many other things, many of us might feel that to laugh is just one more chore to do. I’ve certainly felt like that. I’ve enjoyed seeing the kids be themselves and laugh with abandon, but to join them in the laughter has been sometimes very hard.

The Big Kid might have noticed it. “Laugh, mom!”, he started asking some time back. “Laugh a bit, please!”, he would say, looking at me with those big eyes full of playfulness, asking me to step into his magical kingdom where it still is possible to trust that all shall be well. It wasn’t easy, and still often it isn’t, but sometimes I have been able to take the step and enter into his laughter.

It has been amazing.

Usually it is enough that I lie on the floor. In 30 seconds I have two little boys climbing all over me, laughing, begging to be tickled, asking me to romp around with them. If I’m able to just choose to let go of my heavy adult thoughts, their laughter usually is very contagious. The moments when we have laughed together, shared that magical essence of life, have had a strong effect. Life has felt easier for a long time, days even. The effect will eventually wear off. That’s the moment when a new dose would be needed. The kids, luckily, seem to be eternally available for the task. (Seriously, thank God for children. The world might be a dull place without them!)

Laughter heals. It’s vital, it’s absolutely necessary for a full life.

These past days when I’ve been weaving and sewing this wrap my mind has however been heavy. Laughter has seemed to be far, far away from this world. The news of the terrorist attack in France have been devastating, bringing grief and fear again into our lives. And to be honest, what happened in France is way too commonplace in many parts of the world. News like this are mind numbing. How can one think of laugher on times like this? What good is it to search for joy in a broken world so full of violence, hatred, fear and pain?

It’s an important question. And when grief comes, it must be given the time it needs. The pain of the people suffering needs to be honoured, and then it is not a time for laughter.

And then again, I still believe that joy and laughter should never be forgotten. I believe there can never come a time when we should give up on them completely. Why?

Because only when they manage to take our joy away from us have they finally conquered us. As long as we have hope they have no absolute power over us. They want to make us afraid, they want to fill us with hatred, they want to create more violence. They want to kill all hope.

I will not give into that. They can, for sure, kill our bodies, but they have no right to our souls. Our souls are ours, and we must fight for them.

If joy dies, this world is dead. But if we fight for joy, we have a massive weapon, stronger than their guns.

That’s why laughter is important. If we can raise kids in homes where a safe, shared, happy and warm laughter is present, we can raise people who will not give into hatred and anger.

Laughter heals. Might it heal the whole world one day?

I keep praying that it will.