(As seen published in River Valley Woman Magazine)
If something is not fun, I make it fun. It’s a personality trait that often surprises people. I suppose they think that since I am a 30 something wife, mother, meditation teacher, adjunct theology professor, etc. that I must be an awfully serious person. But I really like to play. I like riding bikes. I like ice cream for supper. I LOVE pulling pranks. I fully intend to never grow up.
I am aware that my overzealous inclination toward fun is a coping mechanism of sorts. When your life and work exist in a world of the three E’s: Ebola, Enterovirus, and Election Season, something’s gotta get you through the day. So I use humor. The empathetic, compassionate part of my soul desires nothing more than to take away people’s hurt and make them smile. So I crack jokes, sometimes inappropriate ones, and I break the tension in the room with laughter. When I hurt for someone, I don’t know what else to do.
A study of Alaskan grizzlies showed that the ones that played the most were the ones most likely to survive. Another study showed that if you take play away from lab rats they develop behavioral problems and become impotent…bummer. This tells me that Mother Nature must think fun is awfully important. Otherwise, apparently you’re not allowed to procreate!
I think fun messes with people’s predetermined assumptions about the way our world should be. There are rules about the appropriateness of fun: where it’s suitable, when it should happen, who it should be between. I hate rules. I especially hate rules about fun, because fun is not predictable. Fun could rear its laughing head during something as tedious as raking the leaves, or something as stereotypically fun as a Friday night Euchre game. So fun should never be stifled, over-programed, or heaven forbid made into a responsibility! Nothing is as awkward as over-coordinated, pre-planned fun.
Most significantly fun is transformative. It has the power to make things that we have decided in our mind are boring or tragic into something different. And that “something different” is limited only by our imagination. So if you’ve decided making dinner is a chore, try out a different reality in your mind. I hate all things domestic, but recently my roomate Tina suggested that we theme dinner. So in addition to “Meatless Monday,” we now have “Will it Waffle Wednesday?” and “Freshwater Friday.” Bring an attitude of silliness toward something you normally dread and you release the tension out of a situation lickity-split. See how I just used the word “lickity-split” there…totally unnecessary. But wasn’t it fun?
I am one of those people that has the gift of introducing fun into tense situations (we all have the ability to do it if we are mindful). But I’m also acutely aware that I can be that annoying girl who walks into the room with a giant smile and a hug for the wall flower who just wants to be left alone. So I have to keep myself in check. Is it fun that’s needed here? Or is it a listening ear and a cup of coffee? There is so much suffering in our world, that it begs the question: “is it insensitive or inflated to have fun when so many are hurting?” Perhaps. I really can’t deny that.
But maybe it’s one of the most powerful things we can do. Maybe when we are overwhelmed by the gravity of life’s uncontrollables, the only thing left to do is laugh. Not laugh AT suffering in an uncaring way, but in a way that reminds us that tomorrow there is always a new possibility for something different. We only need to choose it. If you can’t find anything funny, laugh at your life. Your dog, your cat, your overactive imagination. Laugh at Murphy’s Law! Surrender to fun the way you surrender to the crappy things that happen and you might surprise yourself at how much easier hard things are to get through when your operating with a fun attitude vs. a serious one.
The greatest gift we can give one another is ourselves. When someone I love gives me their time in the name of having fun together, I can’t imagine a deeper form of love. Well except sex, but sex is fun so that’s included!
In fact, fun is so very loving that the most beloved poet of Persia, Hafiz, took the most beautiful, deep, and philosopohical concepts and made them downright silly (and a heck of a lot more understandable). He understood that to cut through to the heart of what matters, we must love one another not because it’s a giant drag, but because it will fill us with a happiness previously unknown.
“Love sometimes wants to do us a great favor: hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out!”–Hafiz
So put down the dishes, the rake, the toilet wand. Leave the laundry unfolded. No one notices the bathroom grout except you. Go do something today that makes you smile. No it’s not selfish, knock that off!
The greatest gift you can give to the world is yourself.
The happy, fun version, not that other one. (: