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    Only The Good Die Young

           “We may be laughing a bit too loud. But that never hurt no one.”
           That’s a line from a Billy Joel song, “Only The Good Die Young”. And it flashed through my mind the other night when I went to see the movie This is Spinal Tap with a group of people, on the big screen, for the first time in years.
           I laughed so hard, so often, that I would have welcomed an oxygen tank. My twin brother sat next to me, and he was just as breathless. I left the movie mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. Like I had just run a 10K. Hard. I was spent.
           That’s exactly how I want to feel when I experience art. In fact, that’s how I want to feel after I experience anything intense in life. Movies. Music. Exercise. Sex. The list goes on. But that’s another post.
           If you go to a comedy to laugh, and the movie hits you where it counts, then laugh. Don’t be worried about laughing too loud or too often. I mean that’s the whole fucking point of going. But in a society that does not encourage the expression of emotions, this can be dicey. Societal Norms (a quasi-oxymoron in many situations) are very restrictive around expression. Societal Norms tell us that "It’s okay to laugh and cry, but only in these situations, and only under these conditions. And even then, don’t laugh too much or too loud. Don’t cry too much. Stay inside the box. Don’t paint outside the lines.".
           Well the best living happens when you paint outside the fucking lines.
           And as a man who knows quite a bit about audio, let me tell you that if you’re laughing so loud at a movie that that it becomes difficult for people around you to hear the movie, then that’s an indictment of theater management, not you. If someone can’t hear the audio over your laughter, the sound isn’t loud enough. Theater management should know that. And they should crank it up. Before the movie even starts.
           I’m not talking about purposefully disrupting anybody’s enjoyment. I’m not talking about pulling a "Robert DeNiro as Max Cady from Cape Fear" move in a theater. What I’m talking about is working with our own self consciousness, with our own inhibitions; already high enough when we’re alone or in small groups, but heightened to dizzying platitudes when we’re in a crowd.
           Art is created to illicit an emotional response. It’s through that emotional response that we connect to the art. More importantly, it’s through that emotional response that we connect to each other, and to the artist himself. Or herself. What an amazingly beautiful concept. If an artist makes a movie or writes a book or sings a song and it doesn’t move you, then the art hasn’t connected to you. For you, the art hasn’t done its job. Okay. But if it does move you, then let it move you all the way. Let it all the way in, and allow it to touch you as deeply as it can. Let it do its job. Then, and here's the real tricky part, trust your own expression of it. Allow it all the way in. Allow it all the way out. Like deep breathing. And like deep breathing, doing this with what moves and touches us creates a much deeper, richer, fuller, more satisfying, more intense, more beautiful experience.
           If I’m so moved by a comedy that I laugh so hard that at times I can barely breathe, then Mission Accomplished. That’s why I went. I trust myself that I’m not going to become out of control and ruin somebody’s night. But many of us are so afraid of causing a scene, or drawing attention to ourselves, or god forbid, doing something that causes a complete stranger not to like us, that we pull back from such laughter without even realizing it. It becomes a nearly automatic reaction. Without even knowing it’s happening, the voice inside of us goes “It’s okay to laugh aloud, here in the theater, but watch it! Don’t laugh too loud! Keep a sharp eye on how much you’re laughing, and at what volume. Don’t ever put the pedal to the metal. Reign it in. Pull back. Don’t let yourself go.”
           We live in a world that’s constantly trying to get us to conform. To fit in. To tow the line. Not just in public, but in private. The power and the depth of emotions and expression makes many of us uncomfortable, even when we’re alone with people we love. Let’s reexamine that. Together.
        Stay with me as I explore this more.

    ©2013 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart, and Red F Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

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