The Absence of Jollity

Posted: December 24, 2015 in thriving
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“I consider that the only thing to be really regretted in our last two years operations is the absence of jollity.”

Calvert Vaux

I’m reading the biography of Frederick Law Olmstead, 1822-1903, a fascinating American landscape architect who played a major role in designing Central Park in New York as well as many other public outdoor spaces.

Olmstead got around,  organized a lot of different things — for instance he oversaw a sanitation effort for the Union in the Civil War — worked hard, exercised some creativity, made a name for himself. He even ran a gold mine in California for a bit.

Olmstead’s colleague, Calvert Vaux, however did note while working with him on Central Park one of Olmstead’s serious shortcomings  — it was “the absence of jollity.”

Wow, poor Olmstead. No jollity! That’s a serious problem. It’s like no  money, no food, no vacation. It’s drudgery, sludgery, skulduggery.

Jollity — you’ve got to keep a good supply of that on hand. So you succeed. So you make some money. So you are taken quite seriously. If your are still unhappy, sour, dour, cold with others — then what is the good of that?

Good includes good humor; it is rooted in joy.

What is the secret to a good marriage?

Keep em laughing.

What is the secret to a good partnership?

Mocking problems, hooting over what you have to deal with  —  including the ridiculosity of everyone but you.

The secret to good parenting? It’s verbal acrobatics, a joke here and a gentle tease there. It’s running in the house, dancing in the kitchen, tickling on the living room floor, giggling during family games, it’s funny words and sounds, floating to the ceiling, falling on the floor — snorting.

And what is the secret to a healthy, medicinal spirituality? The Bible says it’s a merry heart.

What to do?

Flee the absence of jollity. Don’t do an Olmstead.

Laugh more, work less, niffle-naffle some. Love more, snicker more, tickle more, chortle more — hee–haw and guffaw.

How? How do you get started?

You could begin by considering how completely and seriously ridiculous you are!

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