Reclaiming joy from a once fun and outgoing child.
It’s not an uncommon expression:
“Whatever happened to the fun-loving version of you?”
This or some other variant involving laughing, being funny, outgoing and relaxed/less serious.
So, where has this Martyn gone? Looking back on old family video tapes I can see he existed, but that version of me no longer exists and I feel quite removed from him, almost like it was another lifetime ago, or worse, that I don’t know who he is. I wrote about the primary causal factor of this in my article, “It’s not easy being green”, which doesn’t make for easy reading (let alone writing!), but it gives a better understanding as to why I am the way I am today – and thankfully much better than I was.
I love humour, I love comedy; I love making people laugh with my quick wit, the way my mind fires and my sense of humour. The nature of my work throughout my life has not allowed for it, firstly as an accountant (obvious) then studying towards becoming a clinical psychologist and then the topics I’ve covered as a writer. I can’t help but feel that the deeper you look into life and the human psyche, the darker your sense of humour needs to be – to the point that the first time I thought about committing suicide…phwoar…it nearly killed me!
My life has been a journey of inquisition, which is to be expected as I’m not Spanish. However, is it time to shut my life to so much inquisitiveness or is this who I am? A part of me senses that I’m allowing too much in and becoming overwhelmed with a lost sense of self – which might explain the disconnect I feel to my younger self. It's very draining entertaining so many thoughts and views/positions on topics, but I’ve always found it ultimately rewarding in the pursuit of knowledge and truth as well as not having the wool pulled over my eyes with poorly formed ideas.
I was recently listening to a podcast featuring Thierry Henry, former Arsenal and French football legend, and one thing that really resonated with me was how the expectation of greatness is a thief of joy. Henry took no pleasure in doing well because he was supposed to do well – it was his job – which is similar to me with my academic/intellectual pursuits. In general I find it difficult to take joy in a job well done because that’s what I’m supposed to do – and I don’t think a lot of people really understand the burden of what that’s like to live with let alone why we do it. When you have a superior ability to the average person in something, anything less than greatness is considered a disappointment. How can you enjoy yourself when you aren’t doing as well as you could (and should)?
There is a sense of wonder that children have that adults simply do not possess. As adults we get dulled to the world around us, claiming we’ve already seen it before – hell, I don’t even “see” my bedroom when I go in and out of it most times. I really was an adventurous and outgoing child – part of the reason why I have desires to travel/explore the world – nowadays, it’s not uncommon for me to barely leave the house. I travel inwards more than outwards; one, because it’s deeper/richer and where I think the answers lie, but two, I can’t help but think it’s because it’s more practical and convenient.
Last week I talked about the “joy thieves”, and thanks to technological advancements, amongst other things, we’re sadly never more than five minutes or a handful of clicks from someone trying to do just that. Combined this with my lack of trust in essentially everyone except a very small percentage and a heightened threat perception, I’d be lying if I wasn’t anticipating when someone is going to fuck me over, hang me out to dry or generally just be hostile or antagonistic towards me. Once again, this works wonders in eroding joy and fun.
Another thing limiting my outgoing fun nature is the idea that people don’t actually want me around, or they only do because of what I can give them i.e. no one is really interested in “Martyn” the person. I’d rather people just be honest and tell me they don’t want me around or don’t want to be my friend rather than all this bullshit ignoring or avoiding, or worse, fake interest and shallow pleasantries. Can anyone be honest and genuine? What this did lead me to was placing a heightened emphasis on being intelligent so that people would want to be around me, but really I was only shooting myself in the foot in the long run – I was setting myself up for disappointment and heartache.
Thankfully I have an iron will, with more resolve than a fully maxed out Jin Sakai. However, such resilience, I feel, has come at a cost of being able to enjoy life and have fun. Survival mode is not meant to be a permanent setting, and we must learn that previous modes of being are not always compatible with how we wish to live presently. I have been working hard for years now to shed/change no longer optimal ways of living and return to a once fun, outgoing and joyous person, but I’m not there yet and must continue my efforts.
So, to show you that everything doesn’t need to be so miserable and depressing, next week I’m going to write about what I find beautiful and joyous about the world and humanity.