I will never claim to be an expert on anything, and high up on the list of that anything will be that of relationships. Being in a committed, long-term relationship is hard, plain and simple, and making it work in a world that seems to be ever leaning towards MASSIVELY F’ING CHALLENGING IN ALL WAYS, has become a task so monumentally difficult, it’s a wonder anyone is able to do it at all. Saying that, I do have things that I’ve learned in my own life that seem to help, that seem to smooth out the wrinkles that weasel their way into the fabric of our connections, that seem to keep love feeling new more often than it feels like it’s the newness that’s lacking. I Should note, I am at an unfair advantage because insofar as I’ve known Lady G, our love, our relationship has always felt new, fresh, exciting, and weirdly butterfly-soaked, but perhaps this is not just some fluke, and instead because of the advice I’m about to give below. In short, maybe it’s always felt like that because we’ve always been a certain way with one another. We’ll see. Point is, I think relationships need a lot more mischief, and I say this because it’s one thing ours has never lacked, and never lost. (Please see the scare above for one of many, many, examples) The beauty of this advice, is that I believe it works for any type of relationship, be it romantic, platonic, or even familial. Anyway, Onward to the madness hiding behind the method.
Historically speaking, last night, the 4th of November, was something called Mischief Night over in my favorite neck of the woods, Scotland and Ireland, and that’s what spawned the idea for this Signal Fire. This night of debauchery centered around pranks, jokes, scares, parties, and sometimes even vandalism. I’m not suggesting we need to vandalize our loved ones, but I am suggesting that maybe, just maybe, if we did incorporate a little more mischievous behavior into the connections we’ve made, maybe, just maybe, things would get a lot less serious, a lot more fun, and the trickle down would be not only noticeable, but immensely so.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been scaring the ever-loving shit out of the people I love. (See 2nd video, above, of Sarah and I scaring my Dad in an elaborate goof) I hide, often for hours if it requires, and wait for the perfect opportunity to jump scare my wife, her kids, my parents, my friends, and anyone else that happens to be in close enough proximity. I love it, I giggle like a school kid, and after the initial terror subsides and the heart rate of the afflicted falls back to something closer to normal, the scare-ee, loves it too. There’s a catharsis that comes with a scare, isn’t there? Isn’t this why we watch horror films in dark basements when we’re all alone? To be scared is to feel alive, and there’s a mischief in making this happen. Again, I am not implying with this Signal Fire that the secret to a loving relationship is systematically petrifying the people we adore, no, it’s just the idea that maybe, again just maybe, if we all took ourselves, our loved ones, our love, a little less seriously, a lightness would descend like some beautiful rain cloud after a drought.
It’s playfulness, I believe, that sets apart successful relationships from failed ones. Granted this is most likely a drastic under-simplification of a much more complex issue, but then again, perhaps not. My friend Tim called me a few months ago and sounded positively elated, and revitalized for his view on love. He told me that as he was driving across town, he pulled over to witness a wholesome, adorable scene: A 90 something man with his 90 something wife, holding hands walking down the sidewalk together. After about a half block, the old man let go of her hand, and disappeared behind a little wall that belonged to an art piece near the alley way they were crossing over. She walked on another 10 or 12 steps before noticing he was gone, and when she did, and then turned to find him, he popped out from behind the wall and threw a snowball at her. Tim told me that she immediately burst into laughter, and reached for her own fistful of snow to retaliate. They threw a few back and forth before calling a ceasefire, hugged, held hands once more, and walked on. Somewhere in their 90s, they’d never lost that playfulness, that little spark of mischief that I have no doubt kept them feeling younger than their years, more in tune with one another than maybe anything else. What a lesson in this, what a beautiful lesson.
We’re guilty of so much over-complication in our lives, triply so after the last three years we’ve endured. We have this tendency to make all things emergencies, all decisions massive and potentially life-changing. What if we stepped back, just a bit, and reintroduced a little mischievous fun? Last night was the historical night for this, after all, so why not take a cue from our ancestors of old, and pull some pranks, hide for some scares, throw a few snowballs, splash a little water? It’s there, in the play, that we find our simple joy again, it’s there, in the refusal to take all things so damn seriously, that we can feel new once more.
It’s worth it, with whomever you cherish in your own life, it’s worth it to show them they are worth playing with again.
Take this advice, or leave it where it stands, I will understand either way. I just think we have a shot at such great happiness, sometimes we just have to get out of our own way on the journey there.
Sometimes, we just have to scare the absolute shit out of someone.
Add in the mischief,
the playfulness and humor,
and love will feel new.