We're taught that consequences follow actions. The laws of cause and effect. We learn, as we grow up, that although our parents may not be around to punish us, some actions have built-in punishment: waiting the last minute trying to pull an all-nighter, going on that weekend bender, flying too close to the sun... And hopefully, we learn, that in order to avoid consequences, we don't do the bad thing in the first place. We balance desires with our values and experience. We delay gratification for "right now" in order to accomplish even greater in the future. Yes, studying doesn't feel good right now... but getting your foot in the door because you have a degree is better than fun. It can mean the difference between eating what you want and eating what you can afford.
So it's really, really difficult when that whole system gets thrown on its head. When getting a good night's sleep isn't rewarded with a day of feeling well-rested, but a day of agonizing pain. To steal from Terry Pratchett: sometimes it isn't about good or bad choices... sometimes it's just about choices. I've found that life becomes really difficult to gauge when there's no way of knowing that what i'm doing is right, but knowing, no mater what, there's something I'm doing wrong, that I'm only going to find out about when it bites me in the @$$. That's a really, really, uncomfortable way to live. And sometimes life is like that. No amount of applauding is going to help. The best medicine, in my experience, is straight-up laughter.
The U.S. military has an "unofficial" set of acronyms for this: SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR. Situation Normal: All Fouled Up; Things Are Really Fouled Up; and Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition. The first one is usually said in resignation that things are screwed, and yelling and screaming isn't going to help. The second one is generally said with eyes wide, as things are serious now. The last one is used when so much is going wrong it has just gotten absurd.
That's the point at which we really learn human limitations, and just how amazing it is that we can get anything done. It's the point at which we see humanity for what it is, and how we all take ourselves so seriously, but that things haven't changed. We're all making the same mistakes. We're all still fighting over the same petty things. Shakespeare is still relevant because we haven't grown up a bit in the last 400 years!!! We might need to change the language up a little bit, but we still understand the story... we still understand the feelings... We're all still... human.
When it all feels like consequences, when it's difficult to celebrate the successes, what else is still available? Laughing. Wry, bitter-sweet laughter. Deep, surprising laughter. Not just, "I will acknowledge that that statement is funny" laughter, but genuinely-felt laughter. Laughing at ourselves laughter. (That's the best one because it's the most healing.) The moment we can laugh is the moment we've let go of the anguish. Laughter, more than anything else, can raise morale and breathe life into the dying.
Life is still life, and sometimes it's not fair. Sometimes there is no right way, there's only the way through. Sometimes there is no good answer, there isn't even an answer, only more questions. It's messy, it's shocking, it's hauntingly beautiful, and sometimes downright magical. It's life. And, to quote Mr. Mellencamp, "Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone."
Let's laugh and make the best of it.