What’s your visceral reaction to that word?
Most of us might smile. Fun is good. Fun feels good.
And, there are those of us who perhaps judge fun in a different way: frivolous, immature, wasteful, unbecoming.
I don’t ever recall my Dad using the word “fun” in a sentence. Perhaps it was a depression era thing? Even though he enjoyed some great recreational pursuits over his life time, I don’t think he ever characterized them as “fun.” I think generally he believed he was challenging his edge, and that recreation for him was a type of competitive sport to become the best, not unlike most other things in his life. Whether it was flying, boating, fishing, golf, gardening, home repairs… Dad saw a purpose in his recreation, and “fun” wasn’t a word to describe it. Sadly I recall few childhood moments with my Dad that felt like fun.
Fun is an underrated commodity in my opinion. For those who entered the work force at an early age, who worked hard in and out of a career, fun seemed frivolous. Hard work was virtuous. We didn’t have time for fun… Ha! Must be nice! We’d think when others would have fun. But like any good yuppie, conspicuous recreation was part of the success tract. It meant I had worked hard enough to go have fun, sometimes expensive fun. Travel, skiing, adventures.
I love to have fun. I never truly denied it to myself. Fun usually led to great memories. While conspicuous consumption never was really my thing, I have this wild love for convertibles, and during my single years had a few. My dream was that when the car seats were no longer necessary and the Mom Van obsolete (indeed, by HS our kids were horrified to be driven anywhere in it, preferring their Dad’s cooler SUV), I’d have my rag top again. Because it was fun, it made me laugh and feel good. When my Dad saw my sweet little dream car, he most definitely did NOT approve. And it made me quite sad for him. Not only could he not see the value of the enjoyment, he judged me harshly for it.
Having the unique opportunity and tremendous blessing to “retire” from the workforce at a relatively early age (technically from two different careers), I’m learning to reevaluate–and value– fun again. Simple fun. The fun of time spent with my husband, who loves history, and can come up with unique and interesting tours of our new town and environs (the geekier, the better). A husband who is open to trying out new adventures with his somewhat crazy wife who refuses to grow up. Laughing together. Admiring beauty together. Exercising our bodies and our minds. Spending fun time with friends. Riding with the top down under a canopy of beautiful green trees and smiling big, caring little about the mussed hair. I’m realizing fun is an all-too taken for granted thing.
Sometimes it makes me a little sad that I took life so seriously in my first half century. I wanted to be the best daughter, the best student, the best employee, the best wife, the best parent ever. While I realized that having fun with my kids was important, I often worshiped the gods of structure and order too fervently. I should have laughed more. SJ is a man with great wit and humor. He’s well-loved for it, and has made many good friends who enjoy his intelligent (and sometimes sophomoric) humor. He likes to make people laugh, laugh at him, at life, and at themselves, and has a knack for it: even teasing out grins from our sometimes blase and stoic teens. I LOVED SJ when we socialized, I love how he made people smile. Yet one-on-one, I didn’t appreciate his wit. Since my Dad disguised ridicule and sarcasm as “legal humor,” I struggled to appreciate SJ’s humor in the beginning of our marriage. My natural intuition was to receive it as back-handed criticism or ridicule. My refusal to laugh injured him. I missed out on many good laughs. I intend to make up for this.
I’m blessed with 7 amazing friendships that have endured for 40 years. These ladies are
my heart and soul. With them there are no pretenses, no vulnerabilities too scary to share. We laugh and we cry and we enjoy each other without censorship. Times together are sheer, unmitigated fun. I cherish our times together because it is with them I can most be myself, and feel loved for being that person. I can smile and laugh freely.
Now I’m learning to just “be that person” with SJ. To laugh with him, to have fun, to lose my defenses. To stop taking myself so damn seriously. To get my creaky and not-ideal-weight body ungracefully in and out of a tipsy kayak, and laugh at myself in the process. To attempt malasana (squat pose) to the sound of cracking knees. To laugh when he grabs my fat ____. To be imperfect and silly. To treasure fun while it’s with us.
Go have yourself some fun. It’s awfully underrated. And, just saying, you can always make time for it.