Being serious tires me. I am good for ten minutes, tops, before I begin to feel the force of life draining away and I begin, however clumsily, to seek a means or passage by which I might clamber back to common ground. Good humor is a conduit; seriousness is a cell. Perhaps that is why people who seem perpetually serious often appear over-taken with their own opinions. You cannot be a greater or should I say better fool than to take yourself too seriously.
But what does this mean, to take yourself seriously? I believe that within any given day one encounters instances that require a literal or meditative interpretation. Such instances - let's pick neutralish ground - such as balancing your checking account - call for an energy that cannot be replenished in the act. There is no conversation, no art. Enlisting oneself in the function of checking account balancing, voting, conflict resolution, business discussions, etc., is to enter in a contract which must have a set duration. Otherwise is madness.
There is a social balance, by which we feel free to act according to our personal interests on the one hand, while conducting regular correspondence with our community on the other. Seriousness threatens contact. One cannot be serious without falling out of love with much that is irregular, frail, and characteristic of the society we live in. Seriousness seeks to trim the edges of ragged joy and despair. It gives shape to the perfectly offhand, ill-fitting behaviors and occasions that represent most of life as we know it. What can be serious in nature, that never could draw a straight line? Be serious and you at once begin to lose contact with your source materials.
Humor therefore is not a rhetorical leavening of one's message. It is the best evidence of the door to source being left wide open. I am required to speak for myself and to do so seriously. Granted. The fact that I do so economically is a function of my desire to get back to the real work, which is gathering materials for a better life. I say what comes to mind that appears worth saying, but always I hope with an eye on an early if not elegant exit. Perhaps the gift of writing is the speed with which one can pass from community and nature to one's interior self and back again. To be serious, but only for so long. Not to lose sight of what harbors all opinions in common.