Once you lose your laughter, and once you learn to laugh again, you will learn to spot good and bad company. You will learn to see those spewing vitriol even before they have a chance to speak and poison everything around you. Every word out of their mouth will be slimy and combustible. There are people we must humour and laugh with, and then, there are those who are the social equivalent of an oil leak—wherever they go, the flames follow ferociously, and which is worse, you cannot separate from them quickly and entirely. Some part of what they leave behind will be stuck onto you forever. I have been the one setting things on fire, and I have been the one fanning the flames, and now, I am none of them, and all of it is for the better.
The happier I become, the less I want to do with the little game of right and wrong and this and that. There is a larger context to things; beyond that, none of it has any say in how things turn out. What you and I have to say about it does little to change how things will go. The price of company is my solitude. I must be scrupulous in my spending it. I spend my solitude like a miser spends his gold—with great reluctance and general reproach.
It is not infrequent to get dressed, go out and meet someone for brunch. Only to return out of wits, tired and smaller than you left. Some, or most, of the sunlight you so patiently absorbed is gone. The world seems barren, empty and hollow. Everything seems to have either died or is on its way, and nothing is in the right place. This happens often, and then, it is evening, and it occurs to you it was the result of the company from brunch.
The trick is to always be busy, and if not busy, then to appear to be so. If you walk too casually, you must change it and walk with purpose, even with no destination. In the little time that I have been happy and in the few months that I have laughed again, I can tell you these are the only things that work. The trick is to always appear you have something better to do than talk to someone, which you do.
There is magic around us. We must not let them take it away. It is a thing taken too quickly, and then, suddenly, you forget how to laugh.