"Laughing Through My Tears"

I’m late for work
The car won’t start
The rent’s past due
My phone is fried
Paid my bills with a bad bank card
Now the power’s off
I’ve lost my pride
Only one thing left to do  

Go on laughing through my tears
Yes, laughing away my fears
When I’m down so far, and I feel so low
that’s when up’s the only place to go
I’ll go on laughing—
yes, laughing
away my tears    

My old man stumbled in late last night
smelling like beer and sweet perfume
Said he works too hard
His life ain’t right
I bring him down
He needs more room
Only one thing left to do
Go on laughing—
yes, laughing
away my tears

One thing’s for certain:
there will always be sorrow
But I won’t waste time crying
‘cause there ain’t always tomorrow
So I’ll go on laughing
—yes, laughing
away my tears

Sometimes when I’ve experienced deep sorrow and pain, I’ve cried so hard that I suddenly started—inexplicably—laughing. It’s one of my favorite emotions—like the sun breaking through the clouds after a terrible storm. It’s the beauty and symbolism of the rainbow; the reminder that there can be joy after pain.

“Laughing Through My Tears” was the first song I ever recorded (as a single). I wrote it after several friends experienced personal disasters. When my friend, Katya Lezin, had her book signing (in which she wrote about her experience with treatment for ovarian cancer), she asked if I would sing it at the event at which all of her doctors and many fellow patients would attend. I was terrified and told her I wanted to say no. (I was still learning how to play guitar and perform.) But she talked me into it, and I premiered the recording that night (see my post from January 2013 here). Katya, a generous friend, also hosted me for a house concert and wrote an article about it for the Charlotte Observer a couple years later (see post here).

To be human is to experience sorrow, but the ability to overcome sorrow—even laughing—marks the best of who we can be as humans. (The idea that we can overcome sorrow by giving up our desire for the way we thought things would be is, in fact, one of Buddhism’s basic teachings.) I try to remember these deep truths when life gets hard—as it inevitably does for all of us. Let’s laugh together.