Fun … Wherefore Complexity?

I just spent the last three and a half hours cleaning the house. Some days this would bring a sense of accomplishment. Today it has put me in a foul mood, all the more so because it isn’t finished. I decided to stop early so that the whole day would not be lost, and showering I took the space of time between shampoo and soap to wonder about how we have fun.

It was then that it struck me that many people don’t really know how to have fun. I don’t know how or why they get into these situations, but there are many people who simply don’t know how to enter into that peculiar state of selflessness in which time passes differently, everything seems to glow with possibility, and every circumstance seems imbued with a kind of kindly meaning no matter how mundane. Children seem peculiarly able to enter into it, though they are just as likely to suddenly switch into that total, horror of despair.

It almost seems to me that most people substitute physical comforts for those activities that initiate such a state: overly rich coffees, psychedelically over-the-top cinematic spectacles, and fantastically opulent dining experiences pass for ‘fun’ in the adult world, all the more when combined with cultural associations. I enjoy these as well, but it isn’t really having fun because you’re not really doing anything. It’s almost like your being acted upon and I cannot help but feel that true fun is almost always active.

True fun adds to one’s life and not to one’s waistline. It brings a sense of fullness without heaviness and ease without drowsiness. There are even many shades of fun as it can be found in labor, play, talk or just about anywhere, but it will always be self-moderating as any activity persisted in too long will inevitably become a burden. I suppose that even those activities that I listed above, things like going to coffee shops, movies and fancy restaurants, are all fun insofar as they go, but they always seem tangential to me, like settings that add to the fun of another activity by dint of some aesthetic contribution. The real fun comes from visiting with someone, or reading a book, or some other contributive and thereby substantive act.

The stakes, I believe, are much higher than anyone expects. Fun gets relegated to something done when not performing some more important or needful task, but I suspect that all activities can be categorized according to their net benefit or detriment. In this, I think fun marks something not only necessary but inherently good. Performing a noble or necessary deed can in fact be a kind of fun, just as performing a silly practical joke can be as well.

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