Having a Sense of Humor

“A person has two legs and one sense of humor, and if you’re faced with the choice, it’s better to lose a leg.”  ~ Charles Lindner

This has been one of my all-time favorite quotes since I first discovered it in high school.  I even wrote it out on a piece of paper, decorated the border of the paper, and hung it up in my room as a teenager.

Photo of the paper I wrote the quote on and had hanging in my bedroom as a teenager

To me, this is more than a quote because it gets to the very core of my attitude towards life. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, so please keep that in mind as you read this – I am speaking only for myself based on my life experiences.  I also don’t want to downplay the impact amputation of one’s limb(s) can have on a person’s life in any way because there are certainly challenges that accompany amputation and it is different for each person.

That said, I strongly believe that having a sense of humor is one of the most important traits I have that has helped navigate life and the challenges that have come with it.  Meriam-Webster defines a “sense of humor” as “a personality that gives someone the ability to say funny things and see the funny side of things.”  I’m less confident in my ability to say funny things, but I’ve definitely been fortunate to have the ability to see the humor in the world.

Me as a kid with a sprinkler on my head

Some examples…

  • When I was in elementary school I would get on the swing and gradually use my right foot to push my prosthesis off little by little until it was eventually to the point where it would go flying across the playground when I was on the forward portion of swinging.
  • I used to put my leg on backwards and walk around, preferably while wearing pants around new people.
  • My friends and I would take my leg and place it in convenient spots to scare people, such as snow banks and behind car tires.
  • When our “spirit plunger” got stolen in high school, I stepped in and donated an old prosthesis that I painted with our school colors and we dubbed it the “spirit leg.” As far as I know, that leg is still at my high school, though I’m not sure whether or not they still use it as the “spirit leg.”
  • My leg when I graduated high school was decorated with fabric that had cats with random other things (mice, fish) hanging out of their mouths.

Me at my high school graduation party with my cat leg

I really think that my sense of humor towards my amputation as a kid impacted the way others saw me and because I was okay with it and made that known to everyone through my silly tricks, they were okay with it too and didn’t see it as something bad or taboo.

I don’t play these sorts of tricks on people anymore, but I’ve tried to carry this sense of humor into adulthood; this is why I always answer questions for kids in grocery stores and high-five random girls in the park when I’m out for a run (happened today – she didn’t say a word, just held up a hand for a high-five as we ran past each other).  Sure it’s annoying sometimes, especially if I’m not in a chatty mood or if I’m in a hurry, but I think it’s important to help random strangers understand that I’m okay with my amputation and they should be too.  After all, awareness and understanding lead to acceptance, and that’s a really positive thing in this extremely diverse world, so I just try my best to maintain my sense of humor and take everything (even potentially offensive questions) with a grain of salt and knowledge that the person probably just doesn’t know even better (even if I think they should).

Because I was fortunate to be given this sense of humor, I really think it has made me more adaptable and accepting of both myself and other people.  That, to me, is so much more important than having two biological legs, even when I think about the challenges that have come with wearing a prosthesis for most of my life.

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