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Editor’s Note: For the 2021 edition of duPont Registry Tampa Bay’s Health & Happiness Issue, we asked an assortment of funny people “What makes you laugh?” Margaret Murray’s prodigious smarts and all-around joie de vivre have made her a natural leader in the non-profit arts community, from film to theater to historic preservation to her current gig at the MFA. No surprise: Her response to our question was as thoughtful as it was joyful (and BTW, she’s got a great laugh).

Margaret Murray, Curator of Public Programs, Museum of Fine Arts St. Pete

Right now, daily life is so new and exciting that I find myself laughing at every experience we’ve been denied for over a year now.

Cocktails, served to me by a professional while other people stand less than six feet away? Pure joy.

Hugging a friend I haven’t seen since two Thanksgivings ago? Cue the nervous laughter. 

Doing the vaccine math on a group text so that we can plan a dinner party? Our social skills are as rusty as our math, but even that’s fodder for laughter.

Even my tears, which remain at the ready, are usually brought on by happy events. Easter morning, I sat in my dad’s driveway, composing myself before I walked in to celebrate with him, and it will probably be years before I can drive past the dog track in Tampa without remembering how I sobbed in the parking lot, overwhelmed with relief for myself and my loved ones, sadness for the lives unnecessarily lost or diminished, and gratitude for a government that rose to the occasion on behalf of its citizens. 

Perhaps Freud, not the jolliest of fellows, I imagine, was right. In 1905, he wrote a book, Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, exploring… well, that. 

Or maybe he was riding the coattails of the medieval surgeon, Henri de Mondeville, who prescribed humor as part of his post-surgery treatment way back in the 1300s. I’m guessing he thought a good knock-knock joke would go a long way toward getting one through an annual bloodletting. 

In this age of Pfizer and Moderna, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that laughter is the best medicine, but like the scallions growing on my windowsill, it’s something I’m going to keep tending to. I refuse to let laughter go the way of my sourdough starter. #RIPmicrobemagic 

Laughter will thrive. We’ll all thrive.

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