Laurel & Hardy caricature

We are all under a LOT of strain, obviously. A huge load is upon you, on all of us. We really need some kind of stress release that actually works.

We just got through one of the worst years in American history, arguably the most brutal in modern times, and it has taken a huge toll on so many of us. A horrifying illness has made millions of us extremely ill and devastated hundreds of thousands of families. Businesses failed, jobs went away — many forever — and statistics show large jumps in domestic abuse, some levels of suicide and other frightening areas.

In our little world we are — surprisingly — doing okay on almost everything, it seems. Not bad on health or income so far. My wife Diane is a genius at squeezing a quarter out of three nickels and we keep getting a small break here and there on studio drawings. So far, so good.

But with her MS and the wheelchair, the disability duties are even more demanding in this ugly age of Covid-19. There are many, many things we just can not DO now, especially dining in restaurants, traveling and seeing friends and relatives.

There is always something that needs doing here at our home business and it often feels like I have ZERO time for anything I really want to do, like drawing and writing, painting and working up invention ideas. No time, gotta do something else instead, constantly, constantly…

It gets old. It absolutely gets old. You get mad, you get resentful and I sure do not want to blow up on Diane. I can not say enough good things about her — tough, fun, cheerful, happy, busy… Terrific wife. Fine girl. Perfect partner.

So what to do?

No narcotics, very little drinking for us. I feel like I need to stay close here, just in case she needs help. Again, what to do?? You and I, all of us desperately need stress release that actually works.

Lately I have rediscovered a formula that does it — and it’s free, too. Here is what works for me: funny movies.


It’s not an original idea, of course. Norman Cousins was a successful journalist who came down with a baffling illness which seemed on the verge of killing him; he left the hospital and watched films by the Marx Brothers and other comic geniuses, keeping himself laughing, laughing, laughing. And worked his way back to near-perfect health. The experience was explored in his first book, Anatomy of an Illness. I first heard about his amazing recovery in Powers of Mind, by Adam Smith.

The worst thing for me about the Stay At Home To Beat Covid routine is I seem to have lost whatever ability I used to have at keeping a daily schedule. Very little seems to get done, which is very, very frustrating. And I seem unable to control it, swept along in the daily crunch of duties to help Diane, minor home tasks, keeping the vehicles on the road and all. I should have LOTS of time for writing and drawing. No. Seldom do I get much done. Aggravating, and it is entirely my fault.

Recently I found myself wound up tight, forcing myself to take a break after a couple of hours of intense effort that achieved pretty much nothing, so I noodled around on YouTube with a snack and blundered into a collection of funny film clips of Peter Sellers, from the Pink Panther movies. Hilarious! I laughed and laughed and laughed. Fifteen minutes later I could not believe how much better I felt. Wow!

The choice of what to watch is highly subjective, naturally — do you like standup comedy? Old classic silent films? Films like Airplane? I highly recommend you find your brand of hilarity and plug yourself in at least two or three times a week. We gotta do something to get through all this, eh?

How about you, gang? What have you found that works in your world, in the midst of all this frustration and difficulty? Show us your ideas on stress release that actually works. Please share!