Like most children, when I was young, I was jolly and curious, and my environment was relatively structured and advantageous. Growing up in private catholic primary schools enriched me with a code of ethics. I knew right and wrong and I felt insanely guilty at times when I thought I had breached what’s acceptable behaviour. But I knew how to play and captivate people’s attention as well. I think I had a sharp sense of humour and I knew how to make fun of myself. I also engaged in the typical behaviour of children: gossip, being inappropriate and running around like a demon on a sugar high.
As I grew into adolescence, I became a little more self-conscious and desired things beyond my reach. I started to choose my friends more carefully. I sought out traits in others I didn’t necessarily poses. As the saying goes, ‘you can’t choose your family, so choose your friends carefully’, I guess. But it was more than that. Looking back, it seems I gravitated towards people that shared common interests, but I knew were fundamentally different to me. Well as different as someone can be at that age. I saw and wanted something I saw in someone else to become an intrinsic part of me. I guess opposites attract, as the cliché goes.
It’s been interesting to see those of my friends who have sustained our relationship. I’m fortunate enough to have some friends I’ve known for 20 years and others 10 plus. And I’d like to think I’ve evened them out as much as they have me. The close one’s I have biannual serious discussions with. And no, I don’t necessarily mean those conversations about topics that don’t directly influence our lives. I mean around tragedy or mental illness, and the daily struggle that plagues our shared existence. Outside of that, I like to… almost exclusively… make fun of them.
Now the reason I bring up making fun of my friends is because taking life (AKA yourself) too seriously really hurts you. And regularly engaging in making fun of yourself is an important metric of a balanced person. If you’re not having a laugh, you’re probably one step closer to death. Well maybe you’re bringing it a step closer, more accurately.
Look, it’s not like I have two speeds, 1st gear being funny and 2nd serious. There’s also a depth dimension that both of those speeds move across. That being support. And being supportive. You can be serious and tell it how it is, but being direct comes at a price. You want to support those in need and sometimes a hard truth is what we need to hear. But consistently telling those around you how to live is not only arrogant but not necessarily a solid method of effecting change in the lives of those around you. ALSO, it’s worth mentioning, you may change your mind after further deliberation.
So yeah, I certainly don’t have it all figured out and I’m sure you don’t either. But the great leveller is humour. The king is most scared of the joker. Not because they are powerful but because they disarm power. With a swift kick to your metaphoric forehead, you can be brought right down to the level of the thieves and misfits. One perfectly timed comical expression and you’re on the same level of those you detest.
Now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with the prelude. Well, I don’t necessarily know… it’s all about context I suppose. While juvenilely religious with a compass pointing to right as opposed to wrong, I’ve made my way to being a joker and indirectly supporting those around me with a balanced sense of humour. Being direct simply isn’t my style…
However, I think being direct with those around me as I age will be necessary, purely because the stakes are higher. But what better time to make a joke than when faced with losing it all…