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KUHF-Houston Public Radio's "This I Believe" with Ron Mattocks
June 19, 2009
by: Paul Pendergraft
Ron is a native of Pennsylvania but has called Houston home for the last several years. After a successful stint as a home builder, Ron spends his time these days juggling others passions. While performing the full-time duties as a stay-at-home dad for his two daughters, Ron is also pursuing a writing career. Ron is penning a book and makes daily entries to his on-line blog. The value of humor, wherever you find it...is something Ron believes in...as he describes in his essay for KUHF's This I Believe.
After serving as a medic in the U.S. Army, Ron went back to college. Once he graduated, the Army called Ron back...this time as an infantry officer. Once his military service ended, Ron came to Houston to work for a large homebuilder. He says the best part of that job was helping buyers achieve the "American Dream" of owning their home. That job ended and Ron was able to pursue his own dream as a writer. In addition to writing a book about his experiences as a stay-at-home dad, Ron contributes to his on-line blog, Clark Kent's Lunchbox
. Ron enjoys finding humor in life. He says it confirms an underlying hope and both are vital for a meaningful life.
Here's Ron Mattocks with his essay for KUHF's This I Believe.
"I once took a college course studying Shakespeare's comedies where the professor contended humor could not exist without tragedy. I feigned understanding, but frankly, my grasp of the concept extended no farther than it being a fact to remember for the final exam. This probably explains why I earned only a C, despite attempts to bribe the professor by loaning him books. I think he caught on, and to spite me, he kept them.
Humor surrounds us, coming in many forms. For example, humor influences us to do things we otherwise, wouldn't. We may feel sympathy for a ragged panhandler, but we'll hand a dollar to the vagrant holding a sign claiming ninjas kidnapped his family and he needs the money for Karate lessons.
Humor also exists in the mundane like the health survey I recently took.
"How many life-threatening illnesses have you contracted over the past year? 0, 1, 2 or not sure?" It was the "not sure" choice that intrigued me. I envisioned a patient's puzzled face as the doctor explained that tests revealed the presence of several deadly viruses. To which the patient would reply, "huh...I never would've guessed it." The absurdity brought me to tears.
Humor brings connection like the moments my children giggle at my silliness, and years later, we still cherish them. When my wife and I laugh over an inside joke, it's the humor known only to us that fosters closeness. Of course, humor relieves tense situations. Anxious for our demanding boss to show at a meeting, my fellow sales managers and I waited in silence. "How many sales managers does it take to change a light bulb?" I asked. My colleagues shrugged. "No one knows," I said, "Light bulbs last longer than sales managers." The boss walked in, confused by our laughter.
However, it's Hurricane Ike that finally helped me grasp my professor's original premise. Reeking chaos, Ike was indiscriminate moving through the region. Yet, despite its grave aftermath, humor still existed.
One resident, debris scattered like a deck of cards across his property, displayed a sign declaring it as "Yard of the Month." Likewise, a collapsed store wryly announced it still accepted credit cards. We chuckle at the sight of these, but couldn't, without the contrasting tragedy that caused them.
We should take comfort in these examples. For if humor is absent, so too is hope. I believe in humor and the hope it brings, to include the hope my professor might even one day return my books."
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