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Dear Soul,

Today, I feel sadder than the bladder of a dehydrated camel carrying the ghost of Ponce de Leon across an endless desert in search of the lost fountain of his lost youth.

Dear Life,

That’s pretty sad—almost as sad as waking up feeling like a dead rooster with his last crow still stuck in his throat. See, we did it again—we made each other laugh! We fought sadness with joy.

Once upon a time, there was a wooden puppet who thought he had a brain tumor, but actually it was a termite. Every day there was less and less of the puppet until finally, all that was left was the puppet’s wooden, hinged smiling mouth. A little girl found the hinged mouth and moved the teeth together to make the puppet’s mouth laugh. When she did this the termite, which had wedged itself between the puppet’s teeth to make its last stand, was cut in two.

The little girl grew up and became a famous doctor, and she often told her patients this story of the puppet and the termite, and how a good laugh can kill what’s killing you. And she always kept the puppet’s wooden smile on her desk to remind herself that no matter what gets taken away from her, like the puppet’s smile, her smile will be the last to go.

Today, I’ll “bust out laughing or bust.” And day by day, I’ll let laughter find me. More and more, I’ll use my sadness to climb out of sadness. I’ll use it as a ladder to laughter.

 *The Dear Soul/Dear Life dialogs are a product of Heartbeat, a non-profit educational organization. They were written by J. M. Hawkins and used in discussion groups across North America in response to the Life That Loves to Happen seminars with Landon Saunders.