Laugh it Off by Barry Kluger Laugh it Off Taylor Swift sang “Shake it Off,” referring to the rumors and gossip surrounding her personal life and career. But can we Laugh Off what is going on in this country and where we may be or think we may be headed? It’s not can we. It’s more, we must. Now, I hate self-help gurus and have little patience for those who become followers. The whole idea about looking into yourself is to be self-reliant and take what we learn as tools, not the cure. So, do we laugh at the state of America? Well, we don’t laugh AT it but we can choose how much of this dialogue fills our daily thinking. And you know something? It’s damn exhausting! I recently took to Facebook, excoriating so-called fair thinkers, telling them that the dialogue has been divisive and even some families no longer speak to each other. So, I made the decision to only post dog videos on Facebook. They are hilarious! I’m not a cat person so I don’t quite get the same thrill but we have let doubt, fear and angst take over our lives. Sure, we’ve got to put these things out in the open and question all of our leadership but we don’t laugh anymore; not recently. There’s an old saying that I love: ‘People don’t stop laughing when they get old; they get old when they stop laughing.’ Ain’t that the truth? I went to a formal event the other night for Ryan House, a wonderful organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides respite and palliative care for child with life-limiting illnesses. Basically, kids who will not be here in a few years, months, weeks and even days. Well, that certainly is nothing to laugh about. But beyond realizing why we were there, which never leaves you, I noticed the mood of the night was being grateful, staying away from dwelling on the issues we face as a nation and laughing. A lot and out loud! My mother in law was in the clubhouse recently where she lives and she came across a man she did not know and asked if he was new there. He replied: “I am. I just got out of prison, serving a 25-year sentence for stealing money and blackmailing my wife to sign over all of her assets.” My mother in law paused and replied: “sooo. you’re single then??” Ok. that did not happen but you laughed. Admit it. For a few seconds, you forgot your daily troubles or those that may lie ahead in our private and business lives or as Americans. And it felt good, didn’t it? This may be one of my sappiest columns lately but I miss laughing. We all do. And we’d better keep our humor in the days and years ahead. Laugh lines are not a code word for wrinkled skin. It means we’ve made it through life by a guffaw or two and at the end of the day, that’s what keeps us from getting old.