17 – fun

What’s fun? Is something fun because we enjoy it or is it fun because it, in itself, is fun, whether or not we are involved?

I’ve often thought of what makes something fun, especially when I hear my kids say, “this isn’t fun!!!”

For them, things that bore them are not fun. Similarly, things that are tedious are not fun – unless it’s a tedious toy, like Legos or a puzzle (at least for Sara). Cleaning up their mess – definitely not fun (for anyone).

I have a lot of friends and family members who believe Disneyland is fun. I think Disneyland is tedious and I think Disneyland with my kids is only kind of fun. We’re not really Disney fans and I know enough people who work or worked at Disneyland to know that it’s not the happiest place on earth – it’s just Anaheim.

I think the people you surround yourself with can make things fun. Surround yourself with people you like and even work becomes fun. I’m glad I like most of my coworkers – some more than others – and those whom I don’t particularly like, well, it turns out that a lot of other people don’t like them either, so it’s not just me being a curmudgeon.

Anyway, back to fun. Some things are fun after the fact. When I went through Basic Training in the summer of 1995 at Fort Sill, OK, it was pure hell. Nine weeks of hell. Maybe Dante got it right because by week 9 of Basic Training, we were all getting pretty treacherous (treachery, BTW, is the ninth circle of hell, according to Dante’s Inferno). BUT, looking back on it, Basic Training was pretty fun. I threw grenades. I shot an M-16. I went through a gas chamber. I went camping (FTX counts as camping even if during FTX, you get attacked with gas grenades).

However, what made Basic Training most fun, now that I look back on it, was the experience and the interactions with the people I had to endure it with. The collective experience and the camaraderie and the mutual confidence that was gained…that was fun. It was fun to get to know my buddies and knowing that I could depend on them – literally know that I could go into a war and still depend on them – yeah, that was awesome.

You know what else is fun – actually, the most fun, in my opinion?

Anticipation.

There’s no greater feeling than anticipating what you’re about to experience or hold or taste…

Think of all of the firsts in life, and no matter how great they are – the few moments before the firsts – I bet they’re better.

The few moments before your first steps.

The seconds of awkwardness before your first kiss.

The synapses which fired when you first stepped on the gas.

Reaching out your hand to take possession of your diploma.

Walking into your first job interview.

Opening the church doors and taking that first step down the aisle.

Being handed your child to hold for the first time.

…all those feelings of anticipation had so much emotion – joy, fear, hope, angst – encapsulated in that moment. Not knowing the sensation of what is about to be experienced. That’s fun.

Unfortunately, this puts me in a quandary. I’ve experienced a lot. I’m seasoned. Old and busted. I’ve been told that I possess a wisdom beyond my years, which, I think, is inversely proportional to how old I look.

My solution, and yes, it’s contrary to what most people would do: I’m going to live every moment not as if it’s my last, but as if it’s my first.

My first moments were genuinely desired, whether or not I knew if the outcome was going to be good or bad. The moments which I knew were my last – well, let’s just say that I’m not good with goodbyes. I hate goodbyes.

Yes, that was a reference to Dumb and Dumber.

With that, goodbye, or rather, here’s looking forward to next time.

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