Within 24 hours this week two of my most important world's intersected in a fusion of zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. Thinking about it has just about blown my mind, opened my heart, and filled me with gratitude and joy.
Our 12-year old granddaughter, Libby, is doing a school assignment that requires her to interview her grandparents and learn something about their lives as children and what they have learned. I found myself getting deeply introspective. As I answered her queries, what came into focus sharper than ever, is my fascination with laughter as a significant path to understanding happiness and promoting love & peace.
|Two of my favorite cousins and my Pop-Pop c.1950|
Within a day of starting that interview process, I had e-mail from Gart Westerhout in Komatsu, Ishikawa, Japan. He sent me the Japanese translation of Good-Hearted Living(tm), which he and local volunteers had been working on for a year.
The Legendary Birds of Peace Laughter Session
The first laughter therapy club demonstration in the United States took place during the Spring of 1999, in Washington DC.
It happened that I was searching the Internet for any information about laughter, and I found Gart Westerhout. It was only the 3rd year of the Internet but Gart was searching, too.
Gart is the English-speaking director of a community theater group based in Komatsu, Ishikawa, Japan.
They put on original musicals at home and abroad, as well as producing school shows. When they were accepted to perform their show “Birds of Peace” at the Smithsonian, Pam and I were invited to see the performance, then have an American pizza party, followed by a laughter club demo out on the mall between the Washington and Lincoln Memorials. It was a real “first”!
The cast and crew were all volunteers from Komatsu, amateur actors; spoke no English. It did not matter. We overcame language barriers with laughter, pizza, signs, gestures, and my yo-yo tricks. It was a magical memorable afternoon. If you have visited our home, you have seen the large ceramic “lucky” frog which graces our home. They brought it to us as a gift of a friendship which remains to this day.
Click here to see a short piece from the finale of their recent production all about laughter.
The translation of one the most repeated line they are singing is: "Happiness comes to the laughing gate," or "Good fortune comes to those who laugh."
For this production a hand-painted poster, using an ancient technique called “kanji”, was commissioned to a local artist, Kazu Mori. It is titled Warao, meaning Laughter.
|The kanji "Warao"|
The artist has graciously given us exclusive permission to reproduce this beautiful, uniquely appropriate print, suitable for framing. It will soon be available for sale through World Laughter Tour, with a portion of proceeds going back to Kazu and the Osugi Musical Theatre.
I hope you enjoy the video. I found it very touching and hopeful for the future. I will let you know when and how to get your own print of the kanji Warao.
I am ecstatic over Gart's enthusiastic response to the idea that we will develop a series of live Internet exchanges between World Laughter Tour Certified Laughter Leaders and the children and other citizens of Komatsu. And, we will be sending a Laughter Ambassador to Komatsu.
Reaching halfway around the world to each other, Gart and I are doing our happy dance together.