Learning to Have Fun

1.

I’ve been thinking lately about having fun, reclaiming fun, relearning that pure intense joy that we have as children and so often lose as adults.

Alice Bradley of Finslippy.com writes:

I cannot begin to tell you how fun this [art] class was. It was stupid fun. I can’t explain it. We didn’t do anything ground-breaking. But by the end of the class I was giddy. I get such joy from this, it’s embarrassing. Why is it embarrassing, you ask? That is an excellent question…

(read the rest)

I could talk about responsibilities and adulthood. I could talk about how being with my significant other can make even the most mundane or tedious thing fun, as long as we both let it happen. I could talk about contra dance, the thing that is for me what art is for Alice (oh wait, I already did) (and no, it’s not writing…that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).

But today I want to focus on buses.

2.

When I was very little, my mother tells me, I thought buses were the best thing ever. I would make my father draw them. Spotting a real one, let alone actually riding on one, made me, well, giddy. Even as I grew older, as a preteen who didn’t ride them regularly, they were still something special. My father used to take us, as a treat, to ride the subway from one end of the line to the other and back — quite an adventure for the suburbanite kids we were.

Then I grew up and started taking the bus regularly, and the subway. They became part of the mundane world. I moved away to a bigger city and was awed at first by the length and speed of the subway trains as they roared into the stations. But I took them every day for work, and they too lost their excitement.

(Two points I want to make here. First, notice how familiarity leads to autopilot and lack of interest. Second, notice how what amazed me as a child doesn’t hold that power anymore.)

3.

Streetcars in Toronto

Streetcars in Toronto

Other kinds of mass transit still hold a certain fascination. I still love trains and ferries…and trams/streetcars/trolleys, which I first saw in Oslo, Norway, and which still make me think of Europe.

My commute into work has recently changed and now involves both a subway ride and a streetcar. I’ve already gotten bored of the new subway route — but I’m still charmed by hopping onto a streetcar and feeling it glide smoothly away along the rails. It makes me feel both cosmopolitan and old-fashioned. It offers a breeze and sunshine. It lets me see the streetscape I’m passing.

This particular streetscape is new to me, too. I’m alive during my commute now, noting the names of the stores and restaurants and churches I pass, watching the feel of the street change from block to block, eager to people-watch (except when I’m buried in a book, of course).

Getting from place to place is fun again.

4.

I know this feeling is only temporary. I’ll get used to taking the streetcar, and it will get boring and tedious and annoying and uncomfortable, when I’m noticing it at all and not buried in my book.

Or…is there a way to hold onto what I’m experiencing glimpses of right now? The joy, the immediacy, the childlike excitement?

5.

A few links that I’m saving to help me in this quest:

Radical Fun, an article by Martha Beck

The Importance of Fun, an article by Alice Bradley at Babble.com

Live Wonderstruck, a whole blog by S.M. Hutchins

This flash fiction contest over at Writer Unboxed contains a whole lot of very short stories about childhood fun lost and sometimes found (fair warning: not all the stories are happy ones, but many of them are excellent).

How do you keep the ability to have fun in your daily life? Or have you lost it and are working on getting it back?

If you liked this post, you might also like How To Make Every Weekend Feel Like a Long Weekend or Serendipity: The Thrill of Discovery.

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