About 45 years ago, I read Leaf by Niggle, a short story that was written by J.R.R. Tolkien. In many ways, I identified with the story, and over the years, I have thought about it often. Many times, I have quoted the last line of the story, “They both laughed. Laughed–the Mountains Rang with It!”

Read the story Leaf by Niggle Here

It has been years since I have laughed so completely and so deeply that I have felt that nature itself was laughing with me. I call that kind of laughter “a belly laugh,” and I rarely belly laugh now. But I love it when I catch myself chuckling.

I began thinking about the times that I have laughed myself into tears and I believe that when that has happened before, I was always with someone else.  In short, my best laughs have been group laughs–rather like group hugs–they are something that requires someone else.

Laughter is contagious. I find many things to be humorous, and I chuckle and smile quite often. But chuckling is not a deep laugh. When I am with someone else and we both see something funny, we may begin with a chuckle and then we may begin responding to each other’s responses. I laugh harder because the other person laughs harder, and the cycle begins. We might ultimately wipe the tears of laughter from the corners of our eyes, and we will feel better.

As I said, I don’t know that I have ever experienced that kind of deep laughter when I am alone. Even so, when I am by myself, I continue to chuckle and to smile. Sometimes my smiling is alive and tingly, and it circles through my body and it warms my very being. When that happens, I am very close to Niggle’s state, when he sat amidst the hills and he felt that the mountains laughed with him. I aspire toward that kind of happiness–a peaceful happiness when I know that I am laughing with my world–and that the world and I are tingling with aliveness.  On my very good days, I find myself chuckling until my entire body smiles, and on those days, I know that I am fine.

©Jacki Kellum April 19, 2017