Like many humans, I travel to learn more about myself. Travel removes the known, familiar routines and erases the labels which attach themselves to us when we’re stationary for too long. It can be exhausting, and it is often a balancing act between constantly moving and finding a base to rest, but travel is one of my greatest priorities in life this side of 30.
You don’t have to go far externally to go far internally. Travel brings you closer to your true self. It makes you think and adapt and question and learn. It is empowering. It is humbling. My recent month stint in Brighton, a city I know well and is less than two hours from my home town, surprised me by helping me excavate my truths without the need for an exotic location.
The past few years have seen me drift like a rudderless raft at sea. I was elated to set sail into the great unknown, and terrified when I lost sight of the shore. My only compass has been the north star of my intuition that dipped in and out of sight between storm clouds and monstrous waves of doubt. Still, those rare moments of calm would see stars of enjoyment and curiosity twinkle at me, calling me forward and reminding me of the bigger picture and how small and short my time here is.
With these intermittent stars showing up sporadically, my only guide was my feelings. If it felt good I did it, if it didn’t I’d pick up my handmade oars and paddle the fuck away. For a time, I felt guilty about my aversion to challenges. I’m raised in a society that rewards punishment and I’d been surrounding myself with people who judged themselves and others on how much they can endure. Everyone raved about ‘type two’ fun:
And a voice inside me would whisper:
I felt guilty about this for months. I felt like I wasn’t proving myself, felt like I was wasting my body. I’d put down one yard stick to measure and beat myself with and picked up another. Whilst I can take nothing away from people who genuinely enjoy ‘type two’ fun, it isn’t my bag. Whilst I understand that ‘rough seas make good sailors’, I believe the best sailors are the living ones. The ones who see a challenge and make the judgement that means they’ll live to tell the tale, even if that tale is “ we ran away”.
Martyrs and Tricksters
Recently, I read Big Magic by Liz Gilbert. I’ve never read Eat,Pray,Love so it was a joy to come to the author through her exploration of creativity. It’s a great book I thoroughly recommend you check it out. Gilbert introduced me to this idea of Trickster Energy vs Martyr Energy and a few things started to make sense in the way I’d been choosing to live my life.
Martyr Energy declares : "Death before dishonour!”
Trickster says “…Let’s cut a deal.”
Martyr proclaims “Through my pain the truth shall be revealed.”
Trickster doesn’t have time for suffering.
Martyr dies in an inglorious pool of their own self-righteousness.
Trickster says “Have fun with that” whilst riding off into the sunset.
I’ve been shedding my romantic Martyr for a long time. It’s fun to play the victim occasionally and place the blame on all factors but your own. It’s indulgent and gratuitous and like revisiting an old melancholic album and wallowing about for a bit. Except it’s dangerous to stay in these places. It’s dangerous to think that existence is suffering and suffering is existence.
Slowly and painfully I shook my Martyr off. Slowly but surely, my Trickster stepped up. We started to push our luck, we started to have fun. We started holding the gamed cards and living by the skin of our teeth, eager to see what we could get away with next. I let go of the idea that suffering is self-righteous and the only way I was worth anything was by hurting myself in the name of creativity and productivity. Now, I proudly admit, and am beyond comfortable to say in public that:
I now put my own survival, and enjoyment, before the so called 'glory' of suffering for art, or humanity, or for the sake of it. I put down my weight and surrendered so I can spend all that energy that used to be used for self-flagellation on more important things. You know, like saving the world and all that. I’m sick of acting a certain way for the false glory and self-perceived ‘bigger cause’ that often turns out bring all the emotional fulfilment of a damp flannel.
Play or be Played
No. I’m finite and so done with putting this sparkly energy into things and thoughts that don’t deserve it. Coward, trickster, hipster, millennial, whatever. Label me up, call me your names and see how I don’t answer because your labels won’t weigh me and my little raft down. From here on out it’s Trickster energy because I want to live whilst I’m alive (and insert Bon Jovi lyrics wherever I can). I’m out to game the world I see what I can give as well as what I can get.
So on that note, pick a card… 😏