Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Place for Fun

picture source
I've been slowly realizing, as I become further entrenched in adulthood, that things are not as I thought they were. I thought that being an adult, or at least a parent (two terms synonymous in my mind) was all about getting things done seriously. Working. Cleaning. Cooking. That grown life was filled with phrases like "Most of the work in the world is done by people who are tired." and "A penny saved is a penny earned." I tried to be a dutiful, responsible adult and keep my nose to the grindstone. The only thing is it doesn't work. I mean it did. For a while. But not really.

I'm not sure where I got this idea from. A distorted observation gleaned from a lot of places I'm sure. Maybe it's my puritan roots, which I assume I have, seeing as this self imposed deprivation comes so readily to me. The idea that anything enjoyable must be bad. That signing yourself up for optional boredom and tribulation is commendable. That there are noble brownie points stacking up in heaven for whoever's suffering the most.

It's taken me a few years, but I've come to realize that view is complete and utter hogwash. It's worse than hogwash, it's straight up ****. I started spotting it as a lie in my periphery by meeting people who didn't subscribe to it. They were happy, they had fun, they were responsible, well-rounded people I admired. I thought about it curiously at first "huh, maybe it's okay to have fun". Then, as time has gone on I've come to see it head on and glaringly obvious as a huge flaw in my mental make-up. Like water damage in my mind, seemingly innocuous at first, then as you look closer and pull up those floorboards you see how far the tendrils of damage has seeped and corroded. The idea that it's wrong to have fun is a pernicious lie that's done it's part to add to my depression and make sure I can't get out from under the invisible thumb of paralyzing sadness. I've come to view it not as a harmless misconception, but as a sinister and effective trick to keep me out of participating in real life. I'm just glad that I'm figuring this out now, and not when I'm 80 and have spent so many years needlessly dignified and somber.

Not flashy, but family movie nights are definitely fun.
Okay, that's a little intense, but dang I'm frustrated that I've been missing out on having fun when it's been completely self-imposed. To be clear, I'm not using "fun" as some term to cover hedonistic delights that are bad for me and society. I'm talking "fun" as in taking time to read and enjoy a book, going to the canyon with my kids, pausing to enjoy my weed addled flowers, dance parties in the kitchen, and occasional desserts darn it! There is no benefit for anyone one on earth if I piously abstain from those truly enjoyable parts of life.

So recognizing the problem is the first step towards finding a solution. The solution? Have more fun... I guess... I have a feeling that my fun will look different than your fun. I'm excited to spend some time figuring out what I really enjoy. Building playhouses? Painting? Writing? Baking? Yes. but I'm sure there are other things too that I'm missing for their apparent lack of productivity. I've always cheated my ban on fun by hiding it in productivity. Without that restriction I wonder what hidden enjoyment is suddenly open to me and my family.

Here are some sources of people who helped me see the error in my ways and walk toward making a place for fun:

Living the Play-Full Life
Recreation and the Things that Matter Most
Men are that They Might Have Joy, duh!
Peace is Every Step - or using mindfulness to eat cookies.
Why Goofing Off is Really Good for You

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