Fun! Isn’t that what life was supposed to be about, when we were young??
Sure it was. Let’s see… what activities did we used to connect fun with?
Well, playing, of course. Going to any zoo, park, playground, dept. store
with an escalator, toy shop, friend’s house for an overnight, any pond, lake
or ocean, any ice cream shop…. wasn’t life fun back then? What the hell happened??
In my case, treadmill and gridlock. Pretty much that simple. I got squeezed,
homogenized, packed tight into a small box of responsibilities and deadlines.
Did I gradually stop having fun? Oh yes. Stopped having much fun, almost
forgot how to have fun at one point.
For many of us, our work defines us. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but if the rest of the world perceives us as only that, we get pigeon-holed. Not a good thing,
and that happened to me, too.
During the dog days before I returned to my beloved Montana, I used to daydream about what I would actually do when I finally got home. Those thoughts usually turned to what I had done in Montana long ago, when my parents were still alive, and those activities included those endless days of fishing together, or taking a picnic basket on a day trip up into the mountains in our old Land Cruiser. But now Mom and Dad were gone… would those things still be fun? And isn’t that what I was now after, anyway? Fun?? Sure… less stress, less fear, less responsibility, less deadlines and more…………. fun!!! That’s right. For most of us, less of those other things translates into more fun. Whether we even know it or not, our passions, our down-time, our hobbies and our parties are all in the search and rescue of fun.
I know, it’s a somewhat juvenile term, fun… but that’s what we called everything that we liked when we were growing up. If we liked what we were doing, we were having fun. I like using some of our juvenile terms again, especially when trying to explain something we do that is serious now, and more grown up. To use a kids’ term to describe an adult activity often puts a playful, more positive spin on it. My friends know I’m a songwriter, right? So when I tell them I just “made up a new song,” they look at me so funny. And then they remember, that’s what we used to say when we were young. When you make up a poem, there’s instantly a more light-hearted air about the activity… no less creative, simply more playful, less serious. Think about all the sayings we had as kids that were fun, that adults would NEVER say… tag, you’re it. Oly oly in free. Goody goody gander. Made ya look, you dirty crook, you stole your mother’s pocketbook. Nanner nanner nanner,… Ahh. Weren’t they grand? Weren’t they fun?
Can we still have fun? And assuming we can, let me ask a psycho-babble question… what does fun look like to us today? Being of an embarrassingly childish nature to begin with, I’ll share mine. I’ve traded my bike for a dirt bike and a 4-wheeler. I’ve moved up from a raft on the fishing pond to a kayak. I still go down to the gym and shoot hoops. Rather than a bottle of pop and a candy bar, now I’ll have a beer and a bag of peanuts. Still have fireworks on the fourth of July? You bet. Still sing Christmas carols at Christmas time? You bet. Still send a valentine on Valentine’s day?? Hmmm… you might have me there… nope, sorry, I’ve got someone in mind…
Camping out is even more fun than it was as a kid, I think. I love to camp in the mountains now. Matter of fact, thinking about life in SW Montana in 2011, there isn’t a hell of a lot that isn’t fun anymore. Now granted, I’m pretty self-indulgent these days, but wait… I earned it. I did my thirty five years on the treadmill, and survived it. Doesn’t that count for something? And anyway, who set the limit on when we could start doing what we *wanted* to, rather than what we *needed* to? It’s an arbitrary figure, at best… Social Security says it’s at 62. Or is it 63 now? Or 66? One thing we can be sure of, since it’s being set by a Government agency, it will continue to change… and not in our favor. Some Sears stores were saying 55 was retirement age. Some school systems will retire their teachers at 50. On the other end of that scale, Paul Simon, the great singer/songwriter, just released his newest album at 70. Yeah, that’s right… Paul Simon is 70. He told Brian Williams on the nightly news this year that the fact of his present age “pisses him off.” I love it. It would piss me off, too, if I thought about it. Which is why I don’t think about it. Besides, it’s only a number. Are we going to let numbers define us, define how we are supposed to feel? I think not.
Let’s say, for the moment, that none of your family, friends and work-mates have told you lately that you seem happy, contented, cheerful. We know that it could well be that they’re way too preoccupied with their own lives to notice whether you’ve been ‘groovin’ or not. But think about it. If they really haven’t said anything like that lately, and if by chance it were true, then how would you change your life to be more happy, more cheerful, more contented, to the point that your friends might mention it? Is it possible to do? Is it worth doing? Do you care?
Coach Jim Valvano, known as Jimmy V to millions, deceased, coached the N.C. State basketball team successfully for years, until cancer brought him down. He gave what became a famous speech on TV before his death, a speech which inspired thousands of us, basketball fans or not. He basically said that if you have a good laugh every day, cry every day, hug someone every day, then that is a very good day. Jimmy V was always, always passionate about life. Bless him for that.
If we live every day without the promise of another day, our lives get fuller immediately, and there is simply no reason to think about how old we are. After all, we’re too busy having fun, right? Right?????
“The great use of life is to spend it
for something that will outlast it.” – William James
“I don’t know who made the rules,
But I do know that it’s got to be legal
To have some serious fun once in awhile.” – Steve Hulse