Collection abc – L is for Laughter, Life and Listening

Here is the “L” installment of my abc collection. I choose about three words and write something regarding them trying to relate them to Switzerland or the Swiss or my life in Switzerland. This week’s words start with “L”. “L” is for laughter, life and listening.

laughter, life, listeningis for Laughter

Everybody laughs the same in every language because laughter is a universal connection.
~ Yakov Smirnoff

Remember the film “Marry Poppins”? If you don’t, then I am showing my age and so be it. There is a song in it called “I love to laugh” and they sing about the different ways people laugh. And although people do laugh differently it’s true, somehow everyone laughs the same, in every language. Sometimes it’s dotted with words between the snorts, grunts and hyena like “laughing” sounds. Which, of course isn’t really laughing but just sounds like it to us.

Once, when Ben and I were out to dinner, at the other end of the restaurant there was a group of maybe 10 people who were obviously having a good time. Everyone in the restaurant heard it, you couldn’t miss it. Lots of laughter. As laughter often is, it was contagious, everyone within earshot was smiling and chuckling without really knowing why. We were, too. There was one fellow at the table who just couldn’t seem to control himself, he kept saying something like “Oh, pl-ease, stop!!”. He said it so many times that even now, years later, when something is funny and we are laughing we say it: pl-ease, stop!

The Swiss aren’t really known for their laughing and gayety but they know how important it can be. Since 1939 every year there is an “Ill health day”. This year’s theme (2016) was laughter.

The current president of Switzerland, Johann Schneider-Ammann gave a speech promoting the healing benefits of humor and laughter. Here’s a link to a Youtube video of the speech. It’s in French and if you don’t understand French you would never guess that it was about how important laughter is, especially to people who are ill.

Some critics noted how monotone, serious and almost depressed our president looked and sounded while delivering the speech. He didn’t even crack a smile, not once.

Obviously laughing is no laughing matter!

laughter, life, listeningis for Life

I live in a Swiss village so small, if you sneeze everyone knows.
~ Geraldine Chaplin

That really about covers it even when you don’t live in a small Swiss village. You are never really alone which can sometimes be a good thing.

When we lived in Berne on the 4th or 5th floor (depending on how you count) we very often encountered the cracked open door as we went upstairs. More often than not it was children who were peeking to see who was going up or down the stairs. The Swiss like to know what’s going on and they start at a very young age.

Then we moved to the small town where we now live. After a week or two the neighbors said they were glad they had new neighbors who stayed up so late. I guess all the other neighbors go to bed at 9pm. Then we noticed our neighbors sat at their window a lot watching what was happening on the street. I suppose you see a lot of interesting things that way. Once the neighbor told me about an accident she saw happen in front of our house that we had somehow missed. Maybe we should sit at the window more. She and her husband were both extremely upset when we put solar panels up on our garage that inadvertently blocked a good portion of their view to the street. Of course we didn’t do that on purpose, at that time we were unaware of any potential blockage.

We also have some friends who have surprised us on a couple of occasions with their remarks about the work we’ve had done on our house. It doesn’t bother me at all but it does surprise me that people take the time to observe exactly what we are doing.

laughter, life, listeningis for Listening

My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger.
~ Billy Connolly

William Tell, or as he is called in the German speaking part of Switzerland, Wilhelm Tell, is a Swiss legend. A crossbow marksman and hero from the early 14th century. Because he wouldn’t bow to a hat on a pole, he and his son were sentenced to be executed. There was only one way he could redeem himself and his son. He had to shoot an arrow through an apple that was sitting on his son’s head. He only had one chance. Naturally he did it and split the apple in two. Nerves of steel, that man.

The William Tell Overture is the overture to the opera William Tell, the music was composed by Rossini in 1829. The theme music to The Lone Ranger was indeed taken from the overture.

I guess I’m not intellectual because I always think of the Lone Ranger when I hear it. Go figure, I wasn’t even born when this aired!!

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