Archetypes- Jester

We all love to laugh. It is a universal human trait to have the corners of our mouths lift, the edges of our eyes crinkle into crows feet and the appreciation of humour bubble up from deep within, to create that unmistakable and delightful characteristic of fun, frivolity and foolishness. The laugh, the prize of the comedian, Jester, fool and joker, is a powerful leveler that brings humanity together as we marvel at our weaknesses, foolishness and strange rituals. It is also used to such good affect by school children picked on in playgrounds to diffuse potentially serious situations. Fast forward a few years and this person can develop into the heart and soul of a party in adult life. Humour is a tool that can turn darkness into light, ease the sting of pain through loss, hardship and anxiety and simply bring joy into every area of our lives.

William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Charlie Chaplin and Robin Williams to name a few were excellent Jesters, comedians who studied human nature and continue to allow us to laugh at ourselves. The pain of life can be overwhelming sometimes. Therefore, it is our ability to be able to laugh at ourselves and life’s drama, that enable us to take the heaviness away and lighten the load that we have chosen to bare.

The Jester is no Fool

In resorting to humour and jokes, people mistaken the Jester’s behaviour as shallow or stupid. Yet the Jester is no fool. The insightful observations Jesters share make fun of our egos and mock society’s rules.  Consequently, they raise a mirror to our lives and show us our own foolishness. We can get so caught up in the seriousness of a situation that we lose sight of the larger picture. I remember having an argument with a partner many years ago about the correct way to place toilet roll on the holder in the bathroom. After twenty minutes a friend came over and burst out laughing at how ludicrous it was to be fighting over such a thing. Very soon, we were all laughing and that particular habit became a funny story to tell and it never caused us angst after that.

The Jester’s joy at making us laugh brings fun and lightness into the world. As Roger Rabbit tells Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit “Laughter is a very powerful thing.  Sometimes it’s the only thing we have.” A wise Jester indeed.  We need some of that in our lives once in a while.

Where did the laughter go?

Laughter is a very powerful thing. Sometimes it’s the only thing we have

I heard a statistic that children smile and laugh about 200 times a day. As adults we rarely reach ten. What has happened to us in that time? Why has laughter fled from our throats and smiles from our lips? I believe it is that we have forgotten that life is a game to play, to be enjoyed, explored, tested and challenged. The fear of making mistakes, getting things wrong and not being good enough leave a judge and jury to trial us at every step in our lives. No wonder we find it hard to let go and relax and enjoy the journey as it unfolds regardless of outcomes.

Recently I have begun to notice how little people reward themselves for simply taking action. The thought of enjoying the journey and taking the time to savour the moment is lost to many of us. It is more important to move on to the next thing rather than celebrate the last thing we have done. Yet we are motivated by reward- the feeling of pleasure and the chance to make life a joyous and enjoyable experience. We rarely make time for play. Perhaps we could find some time to be children again?

This type of humour is a powerful healer. The skillful Jester creates laughter to heal wounds that otherwise fester and pleasure to reward us for trying hard and doing our best. It makes us more resilient. We work harder, play harder, love longer, bounce back faster and deal with stressful situations better when we have been laughing and feel the lightness of life.

The Jester in Shadow

Yet, there is an under- belly to the Jester’s world that can be cruel and serves to diminish some, while placing others on pedestals. The Jester can act to harm, to belittle and self- agrandise. This is the shadow side of the Jester. We see this a lot in game shows on TV and in politics at work as well as governance. We must be careful not to turn this dark side in on ourselves, as well as others, for the sake of a cheap laugh.

The Jester can also get caught up in games and pleasure to the exclusion of important things.  If we are not vigilant, we can waste time entertaining ourselves and neglect taking meaningful action in our lives.  After all, we are looking for life balance (see blog on life balance here)- purpose and pleasure.

How does the Jester serve us?

As with all these archetypes, we are looking at them as tools to make the journey of life more manageable so that we may face life’s challenges with more courage and strength. The Jester is essential in this I believe. If we cannot laugh at ourselves then we are lost to compassion when we are being most tough on ourselves. To see our own folly is a potent healer. To smile at our mistakes takes the sting out of our failure and helps us to fight another day. We are more likely to learn from our mistakes in this mind set. When we are overwhelmed and under siege, the person that can laugh is usually the first to bounce back and find the way forward.

The Jester’s world is one of creativity, trust and a zest for life. This light, bubbly energy keeps our mood light. We are far more creative and solution focused when we think this way. That serious heavy mood brings us down and we cannot find a way out of it. Therefore, no solution presents itself. The Jester is not necessarily frivolous or time- wasting. The Jester chooses to see the funny side of all life’s situations and finds solutions that way. And if solutions do not present themselves, at least there is the consolation that we laughed through it. The heartache subsides much faster that way.

How do you court the Jester?

Smile. Place a smile on your face and your mood changes instantly. Someone just knocked on the door with a delivery for a neighbour. They disturbed my creative flow. Rather than be angry or frustrated, I chose to smile and we laughed together. The interaction could have been easily forgotten. Instead, it was memorable for me. I cannot say for the delivery- man. That is his choice and I leave it with him.

Watching other Jesters works well for me. By using TV, DVD or the Internet, a laugh is only a click or two away. Also, have those friends and colleagues that can help you see the funny side. Play frequently. Have those things that truly give you pleasure and remind you that life can be a joy. As an adult, things tend to be goal oriented. As a child play is often not driven by outcomes. Rather it is driven by pleasure, discovery and experience- the sheer creative flow of being in the moment.

It’s easy to give ourselves a hard time. Perhaps we could be less harsh on ourselves. As a result of its qualities, the Jester allows us to tap into that less serious side and find the pleasure and fun in every moment. After all, is not one of life’s great achievements to be able to say that you truly enjoyed your day?

Over to you

How big a role does humour play in your life? Do you use humour to lighten your mood? Can you relate to the Jester? Would you like more of the Jester in your life? Is there too much Jester in your life, leading to not getting enough done? What do you do to reward yourself for your achievements in life? How do you relieve the pressure of some of life’s situations? I’d love to hear from you and learn about your experiences of the Jester in your life. Why not share your experiences.  You may provide other people with insight and inspiration?

Pass it on

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