Are we having fun yet?
Are we having fun yet?
All summer long I’ve been helping high school 12th graders write their college applications essays.
When we first meet, most students see writing as a chore. Writing, like cleaning their room, is something an adult made them do. They assume writing is simply a matter of slogging through 5 paragraph essays on topics they don’t care about just so they can earn a high score on the SATs.
This causes their writing to be generic and uninspired. For most students, the act of writing is painful and equally painful for me ( and most teachers) to read.
The other day, after we completed his essay, a student said to me, “I never knew writing could be fun.”
Fun is an ambiguous word with a lot of different definitions and used in different contexts.
For me–I associate fun with playing.
But for adults having fun and sustaining that fun is hard. There are electric bills and mortgage payments and angry bosses and divorces and loss and depression and if fun is playing, playing requires imagination and imagination is something adults drain for solving adult-only problems.
And if we, the tax-paying adults of the county, do have fun it is usually short-lived. We feel guilty or irresponsible or become concerned with what others may think of us.
Having fun is something I don’t hear many adults talk about. They talk about work and gas prices and taxes. Now some of us may be interested in these things but unless you’re a czar of a Middle-Eastern oil field these things probably fail to ignite your fun wick.
Beyond his music and artistry and vision this a soon-to-be 70 year old man who, by all accounts, has fun. Hip-shaking, heart-beating, soul-seizing, unadulterated fun. The type fun that seems to be reserved for children at play.
In his biography, Born to Run, Springsteen writes about being a kid and seeing Elvis on TV for the first time and how his world was blown apart.
In that moment, as Elvis convulsed across Springsteen’s black and white TV, he realized that fun was possible. “FUN”, as Springsteen writes,” is waiting for you, Mr. and Mrs. Everyday American, and guess what? It was your birthright.”
I ain’t here on business baby
I’m only here for fun.
-Rosalita (Bruce Springsteen)
Young Bruce realized that adult life didn’t have to be a conveyor belt of days that looked and tasted the same. Life could be, if you pursued your passions and you shared your life with the right people–fun.
But what about those of us who don’t grow up to be rock stars?
Sadly, we often bury our playfulness in closets with the rest of our childhood toys.
We get serious about living. Which means we want money and impressive titles and material things. We obsess over love and death and survival and forget about how important it is to play. And in fact, playing as an adult is often weird and forced and foreign because we haven’t played in so long.
I am writing this book and it’s difficult and frustrating and more complicated than I imagined. But when I feel the flutters of defeat flap in my chest I fish out the poker chip, consider it’s weight in my hand and remind myself that writing a book, or any artistic endeavor, should be– above all else– fun.
And if you’re not having fun go outside and cut the grass.
I know that sometimes adulthood is a matter of holding on and grinding through your days, ignoring the sparks and hoping for better times but wherever you are, whatever you are doing today–I hope you have fun.
What if you took your own advice? What if the advice you offered to others is actually the advice you seek? If you applied to your advice to your own life would you be more productive, happier, healthier, etc.?
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