The art of having fun.

Submitted into Contest #114 in response to: Start your story with the line, “You wanna do something fun?”... view prompt

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Contemporary Creative Nonfiction

Do you want to do something fun? I can´t remember the last time anybody asked me that. Or likewise, I asked somebody if they want to do something fun…

Outside there was, and still is, a mysterious illness going around causing infection, disease, and even death. In the process, I think I forgot how to have fun. And that is a real shame; because believe it or not: having fun is actually part of having a healthy mental hygiene. Oh, my word, I just made it sound so ugly, didn´t I Let me try that again: play and having fun are essential cornerstones to a healthy life, both physically and mentally!

If somebody were to ask me right now, I would actually have to sit down and think about it, because a dirty sense of guilt would overtake me at the one hand, and at the other: I really wouldn´t know what to answer! Maybe I forgot how it´s done… That is the truth, and I think it´s very sad!

The pandemic caused me personally to cast a critical eye over the whole of my existence. As a result, I developed an intolerant assessment of my capabilities and values as a person. I started to be very angry and resentful with myself and at times even denied my own worth. Of course, that is the simplest way of ensuring that we fall prey to the scourge of low self-esteem. 

How then do I rise from this valley of suffocating shadows?

Peeling off all those layers of grey, colorless, lifeless baggage I accumulated during the pandemic. That would be a good start. Break out from this cage where laughter seemed to have become for ridicule and even forbidden, and crawl back to the sun.

Time to wake up and send an invitation to the muse to inspire me. Let´s try a holistic approach in learning how to have fun again. Here we go - looking for a way to have fun again. No rules: except, it has to be fun. I think we all deserve that after these dreamy times...

Should we start with some kind of Alice in Wonderland adventure? No, that makes me feel guilty. I don´t think Alice really did have fun in wonderland. What if we changed the story a little bit? That wouldn´t be fair to Carol Lewis now, would it? Let´s try another story then: what about Peter Pan? I fear that would become a complicated affair. We´d have to choose sides for starters: Peter or the captain. Let´s be honest: they both have issues a modern-day shrink could buy a house and a pool of. Let´s move on! Then again, where is it written that we need to step into a story to have fun? Maybe we can make up our own story. 

Did I just hit a patch of writers' block here? I´m not the kind of person who has to go outside (anymore) to clear my mind. I´m more likely to sit in a room now and drive myself crazy. I think I need stress; I´m a glutton for it. I need to work on that (I realize).

While I´m tapping away at the keyboard of my poor old laptop, I can´t help but listen to Barbra Streisand on the radio. A song out of a musical or a movie. (BBC radio has romantic songs on Sunday morning.) I never hear this song before. There was some dialogue before the actual song started: a 22-year-old is looking for a job as a ballet dancer, or rather, she wants to work as a ballet dancer.

I don´t know if you appreciate or enjoy classical ballet, but if you do, the next time you watch a performance, try a different approach. Be akin to an archaeologist. Or better yet: an anthropologist. (You´ll thank me later and you´ll never look at a ballet dancer the same way – I assure you.) Explore the hidden subcultures revealed in the coded language and shared ethos of the cliques and sects of the dancers. Their secrets are not merely secrets but a means of expressing eroticism, dreams, and above all: rage!

Delve with me into the rarefied world of the ballerina and note, astutely, the symbols and rage underlying the romantic image. Baldness is there because it is a must, but there is barbarism also.

When I see my ballerina days before my mind's eye; it resembles a Film Noir. The difference is, in Film Noire the stories are always told from the perspective of (mostly) a very masculine figure (Caucasian, or in other words: a white guy). I often wondered how such a story would read if it were a woman telling the story. The inevitable Femme Fatale from the Film Noire story, you can´t have a good Film Noire, without a good old and inherently dangerous Femme Fatale. Back to the question: if she was to tell the story… would she still come across as menacing? I don´t think so. After all, the femme Fatale is only a projection of male anxiety.

I prefer the books to the movies. Still talking about Film Noir in case I lost you. The books are more ambiguous, ambivalent, and strange. There´s this touch of weird glamour and of course, there´s the moody atmosphere of sex and dread. (Sometimes it feels like those stories came from my own weird insides). Aside from the Film Noire on the silver screen of my mind, my feet play a major part in the movie on the remembrance of my ballerina days. They´re consists of how I tortured them for the sake of the art. I come to remember how I prepared my pointe shoes. It was a very private ritual; as private as pleasuring myself, though truth be told, it was more out of shame over the state of my poor feet (you didn´t really expect me to elaborate on the first part of the sentence, now did you?) There was mystery in putting on the shoes, and a sense of violence!

I wish I had a glamorous ballet teacher. Mine was plain and incredibly unforgiving. (It was rumored she was an ex-nun and still a bit of a Jesus freak. I guess you could call that Catholic guilt). She gave me such a hard time. due to a wrecked knee, I was forced to drop out. It was the only time I ever saw her laugh (and notice her ugly teeth).

The cruelty of ballet is hidden, almost in a pretty way from the public in tutus and plies. Ballerinas are the epitome of grace and sophistication; the reality however is that they´re deprived and masochistic. For me, it was a way to explore not just the demands placed on women, but the way women are judged, including by one another – but also a way of what women demand of themselves and what might happen when they start to free themselves of some of those demands.

I guess I´ve always been scared of being warped and broken by age and life (not to find it in myself to be willing to fight for beauty anymore). Don´t get me wrong: struggle and battle scars are beautiful to me, far more than ethereal grace, they make beautiful survivors. It´s the battle wounds and the things we hide or hope to hide that have a singular beauty.

It´s not that I don´t dare cross thresholds or want to keep things the same forever. It takes me a while to get in tome with my older self – on the other hand, there´s richness in exploring things. I don´t want to give up order, discipline, and solidarity. Though I realize that these are not prerequisites to keep you whole. My discipline more or less changed in a need for control, even if it´s illusory. I guess it became about the anxiety over my own choices and leaps I failed to make.

Oh, oh… I wanted to write about a journey of the rediscovery of having fun. Instead, I got sucked into my past. In my own defense: it was a very reflective journey. And since I was talking about a holistic approach: ballet is full of dark fairy tales.

A holistic approach requires sublimation. In case you have no clue what that means, Doctor Freud explained it in numerous writings: a way the ego reduces anxiety that can be created by urges or feelings. It works by channeling negative impulses into positive behaviors. Anger leading to an emotional blowup is a harmful outcome. Rather than fly into a fit of rage, do something productive. Transform the nature or quality of energy: in my case: try to have fun!

Trying to achieve that holistically, you´d have to follow Jungian analytics. But being a Jungian analyst at this time in history is not particularly comfortable in most psychological and intellectual circles. I have never felt comfortable threading that path, but since I need a new life´s philosophy – fuck it - I´m willing to get over it and try the medicine on myself first in my quest to rediscover the art of having fun. 

A desire for play of fun rarely acts as a foundation for my impulses. Somehow it´s embedded in me that this is wrong: work and duties first! And if I don´t obey this inner tyrant, I will be plagued by guilty nagging feelings, that I´m doing something terribly wrong and that there could and surely will be repercussions (like a child playing hooky on the day of an important school exam).

It doesn´t have to be much: beauty and laughter can serve as instant gratification if we let it… Life becomes immeasurably more satisfying when we learn to revel in the pleasure of simply being alive. Right now, for me, there´s not much to be celebrated in the mundane every day; but joy should be found all around us, as long as we are willing to seek it out and identify the sources of elation we might miss if we don´t pay attention. Maybe, I should hunt for hidden pleasures in daily existence and drop the notion altogether that fun and joy have foundations.

A friendly visitor landed on my hand yesterday: not a ladybug but still a red bug. The most common representation of bugs is good luck, great fortune, and love. It didn´t stick long though, which might mean that my root chakra is out of balance (no kidding) and is holding on to stress.

Bugs often bring about a sense of child-like interest because they are a reminder of long summer days filled with laughter and games. So, the bug invited me to touch base with my inner child and connect with that enthusiasm and innocence. It´s an invitation to disconnect from the stress and bring in the high vibrational child-like energy. It may be high time to start doing things just for fun. Step out of regular activities and unwind into something new. Something fun. Something that allows me to tap into my playfulness, creativity, and enthusiasm

Regain my emotional equilibrium and restore my ability to have fun. It is a fundamental cornerstone on the journey to learn to appreciate ourselves for who we are. And allow ourselves, to have fun!

October 03, 2021 18:00

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2 comments

John Hanna
00:55 Oct 14, 2021

Hi F.O., I got assigned your story from the critique circle so please don't be offended if I point out some tiny errors that usually wouldn't be noticeable. didn´t I Let me - period here dreams, and above all: rage! - I forget the rules for colons and semicolons but I don't think one of either goes here that is the simplest way of ensuring that we fall prey to the scourge of low self-esteem. - I'm not sure if I agree and there are a few more of these assertions that I'm not sure I agree with, they aren't truths for me Anyways, I like the v...

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F.O. Morier
07:22 Oct 14, 2021

thank you so much! I appreciate it!

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