Celebrating the Larrikin: an irreverent piece
Happiness, like so many other things, is no longer seen as an ordinary part of life, as it has become “expertised” – researched, unpacked and thought about deeply. We are then vulnerable to look at happiness with a therapeutic/psychological bias, which is more about living a meaningful life, but not an, hilarious one. A form of grown up happiness, but one that has been robbed of a sense of adolescent fun. This does not mean I am against living a meaningful life, but a life shouldn’t be solely formed by earnestness, but be celebrated, with a lightness, and with a sense or irreverence and joy.
Celebrating the larrikin will clearly have a bias towards men and in this first blog, I do this unashamedly. In my role as a counsellor I meet so many men who have lost their mojo, who have suppressed so much of themselves, that I thought I’d write this, to encourage the celebration of the lighter side of ourselves. We need to get men (well in fact all of us) to stop living vicarious adventure through their TV’s and computer’s and get them to reengage with their fun and adventurous nature so they can win back their passion for life.
I want my first ever blog on happiness to celebrate hilarity. Please do not take this too seriously or over analyse it.
For clarity my definition of a larrikin encompasses some or all of the following:
The larrikin aspect of ourselves is mischievous, uncultivated, comedic, a laugh, rowdy but good natured, encourages us to act with apparent disregard for social and political conventions, therefore involves risk taking, has a definite maverick quality, is anti authoritarian, and is a place where uselessness and ordinariness are celebrated.
As a therapist I sometimes miss the larrikin aspect of myself – which if not encouraged in my life often morphs into it’s evil twin, a kind of semi humorous curmudgeon.
After Karen died, it was the part of me, that was hardest to reconnect with again. But it was also the part of me that I missed the most. None of the many books I read on grief, ever mentioned trying to reengage with my larrikin energy, but it is necessary, as I needed to not only nurse my wounds but also begin to take risks again. It was not until my brother invited me on a boys weekend that I truly reengaged with that part of myself again.
I must declare a caveat here, about boys-weekend’s (not the one I attended), where I think a minority of them have contaminated the larrikin part of ourselves, by becoming some form of misogynistic, inappropriate, alcohol influenced events. One only has to look at the Chiefs (Rugby Team) Mad Monday debacle.
I celebrate - the following qualities of larrikin energy:
Larrikin energy often forms round our earliest mateship comradeship relationships when we are in our teens.
As men we miss it when our society recruits us into status and competition and when our lives become more serious, controlled, ordered, and stressed.
Men are scared of losing it when they get married.
It is egalitarian, it isn’t impressed by status or privilege.
It is self deprecating.
It is not about accepting the status quo.
It gets a bad wrap as it is vulnerable to being informed by misogyny - but it does have a sexual energy.
It is about enjoying ones maleness – the physicality – the connection through body.
It is about laughter, risk taking and irreverence.
It is not mean spirited.
I see mothers try and mother it out of their boys – seeing it as violent and dangerous. But in its true form it is where sexual appeal and adventure come from.
It is not about violence – which is informed, by power, shame, misogyny, trauma and abuse.
It exists free of alcohol.
It has to operate in partnership with a good facial recognition package – so you can pick when it is off, apologise and make amends.
It needs to be balanced with intuition, body cognition and mindfulness.
It is often the thing that is stifled in workplaces.
It is competitive, but in a light hearted way, but isn’t about being a dickhead.
It shouldn’t have free rein, in fact it needs civility to be more compelling.
It needs to be challenged but not shamed and silenced. For that is where resentment lies.
Some women thrive on it while others only want to control it. It is tricky to manage – like desire it is not politically correct.
It has a flirtatious energy, but this can lead to problems.
It can’t be bought – its punk – its rebellious.
Society hates it as it challenges authority.
It is where protest lies – as long as they are performed with humour.
It has a fragility as it is so easily taken over by braggery, status, self centred showing off and one up man ship.
It loves good natured competition, it thrives on ribbing – but can be contaminated by bullying.
It doesn’t hold onto grudges, as when you rib and tease you quickly learn that what goes around comes around.
It is linked to the edge where change flourishes, it is where creativity lies, however organisations like goals, rules, performance, game playing, secrecy, authority and control, but if they want creativity they have to allow for, rebelliousness, conflict, abrasion, laughter, love and connection.
It is about being in the now, being present, not getting stressed about the past or worrying about the future, it is about taking risks, failing, getting up dusting yourself off and going again.
In its true nature, one is not worried about what others think about them. As soon as we have an image/ego to keep up with – it is fucked – as that’s what takes over and we focus on protecting and defending that.
In truth it needs to be part of the whole package, as it definitely can’t run your life, it needs to be kept in check by the other aspects of yourself, but at other times it should be encouraged to flourish.
Brent Cherry Counsellor of Hello Happiness Ltd
www.hellohappiness.co.nz or facebook.com/hellohappinessnz