Wow. I struck a cord a couple days ago talking about fun. So many great comments tell me we all want to have fun but we’re not all sure we can. Whether we’re feeling guilty, or feeling judged, or just not feeling free, there are so many barriers to having fun, it’s going to take a few of us together to knock them down.
It’s not easy. The lateness of this Catch is testimony to the number of attempts I have made to write it. I am sorry it’s late, but you are glad you’ve been spared those attempts.
The first helpful comment comes from Dave Roper, the one who started this all with his blog about laughing amidst pain. (That was his little white dog pictured on our Catch commiserating with his back pain.) It’s a teaching from St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) who said there are three criteria to apply to any situation – three reasons for doing anything:
- Is it good, i.e., is it morally virtuous?
- Is it necessary (a morally neutral “good” like cutting the lawn)
- Is it fun?
Imagine that! A 13th century saint putting fun on the same level as moral virtue! Now that’s something to think about. Try using this little test … it will simplify your life.
And then there is Kathy, a Catch regular and retired military officer who wrote: “I have never felt guilty over having fun – in fact by having fun, you learn how to connect with people, and love people, and share joy with people.” Get this – someone who put her life on the line in the serious, no nonsense military is teaching us about fun. That’s like my son, the police officer, who has people write letters to his precinct thanking them for how nice it was receiving a ticket from Christopher. He has three of these letters on file. Someone’s having fun!
I think Kathy has a big secret to fun. You need other people to share it. Connect with, love and share joy with other people. Simple enough. Risky, but simple. It’s safer to stay inside yourself, but the fun is outside.
Janet resonates with this. “I think having fun definitely includes other people. Tossing a frisbee is the best for me. I’m not that good; I just like being outside and tossing things. I laugh a lot when I’m doing this.”
And finally, the last is from my wife, Marti, who knows me so well, she skewered me with the following:
For people like you who have complicated life on earth with your needing to define everything, knowing the Word (whether you live it or not), and never connecting … you have to begin in the extreme. Jump out of a plane, drive a hot rod on a real motor race track, enjoy a day with someone without a home (and promise to come back the next day, and the next, and the next). Plan and carry out surprises, discontinue dwelling on yourself, live in your uncomfortableness … and just do it.
And then she took off on her own interpretation on the plaque in our kitchen …
Recognize your days are numbered, so actively make every minute count. Break the rules – stop living under the “No swimming” sign in your mind and all the rules you’ve made to govern your life; they are as ridiculous as stepping on a crack and breaking your mother’s back (besides, your mother is dead).
Kiss slowly – which means to enjoy the kiss because you are giving in to the kiss not sheepishly taking.
Love truly – there are many who love you, but few you truly love regardless of the other person’s response.
Laugh uncontrollably – which means laugh at yourself, for you truly are very funny. Laugh at the ridiculousness of holding yourself in and never stepping out from your own skin – not embracing everyone from babies to really old people. Laugh – and the world will laugh (at you, which is my point), and then maybe with you.
And never regret anything that made you smile. Why do you consider that anything that makes you smile is a sin? Perhaps if you consider everything good as bad, maybe that is a primary reason why you do not have much fun.
In such extreme cases, I suggest you search until you find some pixie dust, sprinkle the whole bottle over you, think happy thoughts, and believe. The flying will come later.
I’m going to let Janet have the last words: “I’m having my own struggle with all of this right now and likely, it goes deeper than just not having fun. But having fun can make a huge difference in all of our lives. So let’s go play on the playground! Why do kids get to have all the fun?