Catastrophe + Time = Humor

One of the most amazing mathematical facts your algebra teacher never taught you is this - catastrophe + time = humor. The quicker we laugh about and share the embarrassing or humiliating events in our lives, the sooner we’ll relax and enjoy life. When we stop worrying about our public image, we begin living authentically. We don’t have to grit our teeth and endure life white-knuckled, afraid of looking incompetent or foolish to our friends, associates and family. Why? Because people actually relate to us better when we’re a dufus. All of us have felt inept at times. Nobody feels perfectly put-together and competent; we all have a slight inferiority complex. When we try to appear flawless, we give a false impression that intimidates others.

For example, once my family was asked to sing a musical number in church. I didn’t want to look incompetent so I made my large, unruly brood practice for several months until I was sure we were ready to perform flawlessly. Needless to say, events did not go as planned. When it came time for us to perform, I lined my little ones in front of the microphone on a stool and placed the older children behind them. My husband stood at the side holding the baby so he could make sure no one bolted for the door.

I sat down on the piano and was almost ready to begin my introduction when my young son on the front row suddenly sucked the entire microphone into his mouth and yelled, “Ahhh-OOOO-GA!!!”

I watched in horror as my husband set the baby down so he could de-suction our toddler from the microphone. Then the baby ran over to the piano and started banging on the keys. At this point the other little kids on the front row got the giggles so bad that snot foamed out their nostrils. The older children on the back row were so humiliated they were a member of our embarrassing family that they turned a deep shade of red, vowing to change their last name and move into an orphanage.

To this day, I can’t remember if we actually sang the song we’d meticulously prepared for that day. I was so embarrassed I don’t recall what actually happened after that. What I do remember is that I’ve never received so many compliments. I learned other people don’t expect our public performances to be perfect and, in fact, they are more entertaining when something goes wrong.

“That was the best musical number we’ve had in this ward for years,” was the sentiment I heard expressed from dozens of giggling ward members. The whole congregation seemed energized, happier and friendlier to each other that day. It dawned on me that my fellow church goers had not judged me as an incompetent mother saddled with uncontrollable, obnoxious children – they actually enjoyed the whole bumbling Baadsgaard performance. If we’re going to look goofy anyway, why waste so much time trying to appear like we’re not?

These days I actually enjoy showing up to any family performance to see what embarrassing or goofy things we are going to do this time. The day I quit trying to orchestrate or control what was going to happen was the day I began enjoying my life. Think about it - what do we talk about around the dinner table or when we visit with friends? We generally share the most embarrassing events in our lives. So why don’t we just laugh about them when they happen? If we had performed flawlessly that Sunday, our family musical number would have been quickly forgotten. Instead we are now recorded in the annals of church history. Everybody loved us for just trying. Why? Because we’ve all been there. We’ve all forgotten to zip up our pants, been turned down for a date, or failed a test. It makes us feel better when we see we’re not alone.