Pine Nuts: The importance of merriment

McAvoy Layne
McAvoy Layne

It was only a photograph, yet it pulled on my heart strings. It was a photo of soccer fans celebrating a win by dancing gleefully in a London street fountain, a scene of unbridled merriment to make any heart sing. Glancing at that picture for five seconds put five days on my already long life. It occurred to me that one of the most important things that has gone missing over the past few years, along with civility, the supply chain, and climate, is gaiety, an effusion of joyfulness in celebrating a small victory, perhaps someone else’s small victory.

You might want to say, “Hey, there’s too much calamity in the world today to be celebrating anybody’s small victory.” And you would have a valid point, but we cannot deal with stress in our world if we are stressed in our lives, and merriment is the best medicine on the shelf.        

Allow me to relate an example of merriment that came my way last night when a guest in my home bared his soul and shared with me a personal story that he had not shared with anybody before, at least that’s what his wife told me…

Home alone at 12 years old, he heard a screech of brakes and looked out the window to see his beloved dog Buster lying in the road. Not having a gun in the house, and not wanting Buster to suffer, he accepted the dreadful duty that was calling, shouldered an ax, marched bravely outside, stood over Buster, raised the ax high above his head, and watched in awe as Buster sprang-up and ran away. Buster stayed gone three whole days.  

When I heard that story I wanted to leap for joy myself. My spirits were lifted, and I applauded that 12-year-old and his dog, Buster.

The gentleman who related that incident must have felt safe in sharing with me such a personal drama, hoping it might unlock some joy in our hearts, and it did. I’ve been in a good mood ever since. I only wish Buster could have been there with us to join in the merriment, but Buster is in dog heaven now, having lived 98 long dog years, and died of natural causes. Yet it was Buster’s little victory that gave me a lift and enabled me to take a sober look at the world at large and ask myself what I can do to make a difference. 

Let us reach-out across the isles, roads and trails that separate us, and rediscover the common ground that we all share. Merriment is the lubricant of goodwill, and goodwill is the lubricant of tranquility.

My portraying Mark Twain for 34 years has allowed a foretaste of heaven before my earthly contract runs out, and The Wild Humorist of the Pacific Slope has taught me that even in this wild and crazy 21st century it is possible, even vital, to smile every once in a while…


Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.