“You can then feel the same life deep within every other human and every other creature. You look beyond the veil of form and separation. This is the realization of oneness. This is love.”
The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
I started my morning in typical fashion, waking up in yet another heartless hotel room and swilling stale coffee on my way to the airport. I had spent 54 of the last 64 days on the road; slept in 31 cities, an amount the average person would not experience in a lifetime, but for me, it was just another comedy tour. The toil of travel was weighing me down and the fatigue had my usually sunny spirits sagging. My Mother always said the there are two types: the people that tear your heart out and those that put it back, and I always strive to be the latter, but today it was a struggle. Sadly, when I boarded the aircraft for my cross-country flight my emotional state really took a nosedive.
When I reached my assigned seat I was disgusted to find a sizable portion of it missing, or more accurately, invaded by the man in the seat next to mine. To say he was a person of considerable girth would be to flirt with understatement, and a substantial amount of it was now spilling into my lap as he was too big to lower his armrests (or trey table). By my calculations, 15% of his body was in constant contact with about 50% of mine.
His head rested on his chin, and that chin rested on the next chin, and the next chin followed suite, until the last chin rested atop his blubbery man-breasts; in fashioned terms he wears a “layered look”… when naked. The last time I saw a figure like this it was being milked.
The wheels of the plane had not lifted off the ground when he reached in his shirt pocket and produced – of all things – a ham sandwich. Much to my dismay his mouth gaped open and lunged rapidly forward devouring the entire sandwich in three quick bites; I felt like I had witnessed the cross between a human and a Hungry Hungry Hippo. And the fact he was eating ham struck me as damn close to cannibalism, as each of his fingers appeared suitable to make a football with.
The thought of spending the next five hours with his clammy body draped across mine was depressing. The only silver lining to the clouds we were flying through was that I could remain grateful I will not have to be a pall bearer when this colossal man keels over with a heart attack in the undoubtedly near future, for it was apparent that he was digging his own grave… with his teeth.
In my comic mind I soon found myself silently replaying many of the cruel fat jokes I always try to avoid:
He is so fat he gets in his own way!
He is so fat he has to stick his arm out to see if he is walking or rolling!
He is so fat when he gets his shoes shined he has to take the man’s word for it!
He is so fat he puts mayonnaise on aspirin!
It was at this moment I noticed the man reading a newspaper clipping with misty eyes. Upon closer examination I discovered it was the obituary of a woman about twenty years older than him; in her photo I noticed similar features to his, and in a moment of ego-puncturing clarity I realized this man was probably returning from burying his mother. Suddenly I was transported by memory to the passing of my own parents and the tremendous loss I felt. I was able to recognize that although physically different, this man and I are essentially the same. I was reminded of what my friend, Kinky Friedman, said, “If you look deeply enough into yourself, you’ll soon discover you can see everybody else.”
I was filled with shame. Only moments before, I was guilty of finding self-righteous pleasure in this poor man annoying me; his unfortunate defect was actually bringing me a perverse sense of superiority.
I suppose it is a sad tendency of human nature to fail to hunt for our hidden similarities, and to feel that we are separate or alone. We live in divisive times, where most are quick to label others based on differences (blue-red, hawk-dove, conservative-liberal, black-white, Christian-Muslim, ad infinitum) and in doing so, we do ourselves, and others, a disservice. As my mentor in comedy, Bill Hicks, pointed out, “It is only our illusion that we are separate from God, or that we are alone. We are all one and the minute you call yourself one thing you immediately separate yourself from all the other things.”
This profound wisdom was echoed by Peter Finch: “We’re like one soul in billions of separate bodies, caged or separated, constantly craving communication – to share, to express, to experience each other. In a good and growing relationship of any kind, we move toward oneness.”
Even if you do not personally believe, as I do, that we share one soul physically divided by prisons of skin, then you still must recognize we share a common ancestor, which at the very least means we are all related. The ancient people of the Cherokee Nation had a saying, “ea nigada qusdi idadadvhn” which translates to: "all my relations in creation." If you prescribe to the theory of evolution, then that ancestor would be that first fish that decided to crawl out on land and eventually sprout arms and legs. If you believe in the Bible, then we all descended from Adam and Eve.
On a purely humorous note, perhaps this is the reason that humans so frequently act so foolish toward each other. I read that scientists have proven that the children produced from incest are often brain damaged. So if Adam and Eve had kids, and their kids had kids, then it stands to reason that we are all descendants of brain damaged people.
Five hours later I got off that airplane happy to be feeling a little less brain damaged than when I got on. My irritation with the man had transcended into compassion and condolences. I love him (despite there being so much of him to love).
And I love you too. It is not that difficult if I only think about it. By believing that, on some level, you and I are one, makes it easy for me to love you, because as Terrell Owens says, “I loves me some me.”
“The Laff Guru” has taken his message of LAUGHTER=NIRVANA to all 50 states and 23 countries. His awards include: “Comic of the Year,” “Campus Performer of the Year,” and a “Cable Ace Award.” His credits include over fifty TV appearances, including: Showtime and The Late Show. He is represented by GP Entertainment. To find out more about his award-winning comedy act please visit: laffguru.com