Friday, March 30, 2007

Good Question

Over at Cam's Commentary, Cam's post today concerned fun. She mentions an old man who used to ask her what she had done for fun recently. Her thoughtful post made me think how I settle into a routine with the things I enjoy. Sewing, gardening, and reading are genuine pleasures, but are they fun? Yes and no, I suppose. Mostly I think I use them for solace when life is too stressful. After thinking about Cam's post, it seemed that, for me at least, fun and enjoyment have some differences.

Sewing becomes fun when something unusual and out of the ordinary occurs. When something unexpected happens. While sewing is almost always a pleasure, the fun occurs when a vague idea materializes, or when a mistake turns into a new path to pursue, or when the quilting transforms an OK piece into something I love.

This break from the routine is what I associate with fun, as opposed to enjoyment. Attitude is also important because I know people who create fun in the most mundane or even awkward circumstances. They look at things with a slightly wry or off-beat way, and thereby transform a dull situation into one that is amusing or delightful.

So today, I will be thinking beyond mere enjoyment, beyond events that create stress, and will be trying to observe and participate in a way that moves the moment from what it is to something more.

I will try to remember to ask myself what I've done for fun lately. If I can't come up with a situation that fits, I'll try to think of one. Making plans for a trip to a nursery, a quilt shop, or a museum; a day trip somewhere; getting tickets to events, but adding the ATTITUDE.

Attending Delirium was a joy, but those opportunities are rare. I want to be aware on a much smaller scale of how to turn the mundane into diversion, to take a bit more gusto from the everyday, to approach life with relish. I want to add new things when necessary, but approach the routine things with a new look. Hard work can be fun, being creative is fun...I just want to be aware and appreciative.

My pleasures are small ones, but I can add spice if I try. What do you do for fun? How does your idea of fun differ? The differences are less important than the awareness.


  1. I'm not sure that the idea of fun isn't an artificial one. I like your idea of enjoyment better. Isn't that somewhat like the Zen idea of being in the moment? So many people are working so hard to have "fun" that it becomes almost sad and desperate. (I'm thinking of the Spring Break attitude that young people have, for example.) It seems better to enjoy what you enjoy and strive for the unexpected pleasures (like your day trip) than to look for "fun." Maybe I'm just old and dull, but I don't really think so.

  2. KayI think the idea differs for everyone, but my ideas of fun have usually been much quieter. People who are looking for the kind of fun you mention, rarely seem to be as happy. Your description of "desperate" may be a good one. Maybe it goes back to the fact that some people's brains are harder to stimulate, so they need something intense. Even when I was young, my pleasures were more solitary and "inner."

    I don't think either one of is old and dull -- we are mature and fascinating, don't you think? Again, attitude is everything! -

  3. jenclair, this is a wonderful post. I agree with Kay about how desperately some people pursue a good time. My DH often mentions how obsessive he and the first wife were about social events, tennis, houseboating, etc. EVERY single weekend. They thought it was fun at the time, but now it just sounds like work (and my personal definition of hell). Maturity and experience modify our definition of fun. It takes some experience to realize that often the effort required is way out of proportion to the benefit.

    A large part of my personal idea of "fun" is whether it's something done for me. During a very stressful period a few years ago, when I was trying to juggle too many balls and run interference for too many people, a therapist asked me, "What have you done for YOU lately?" whereupon I instantly burst into tears. I realized how I'd neglected my own needs. "Fun" is serendipity; "enjoyment" is something we can learn, with a little thought. Attitude is key.

    Wonderful post.

  4. Jen - a very timely post for me! I associate fun with taking risks of some kind. Enjoyment (to me at least) automatically implies a level of confidence and certainty that isn't usually available in a risk-taking situation. Enjoyment often requires planning and at least a rough idea of what's expected. Fun is purely spontaneous and usually doesn't have any kind of available road map or travel guide.

    I rather expect my definition of "fun" is more internalized than what you and the other commenters are describing. For example it didn't occur to me to look outward at what other people do or how "having fun" might be defined at the socialized or cultural level. Plus I'm perfectly away that risks, not matter how tiny or peripheral, are the very opposite of fun for many people. So I think it's the "E" in my ENTP personality that is doing the talking here.

  5. Jane Ann - It is a terrible feeling when you have decided that you are last on the list--especially when you've done it yourself. It happens gradually; all of a sudden you realize that you haven't taken left any time or energy for yourself. Our ideas of fun may all be different, but we need to take time for whatever they are and appreciate them.

    I like the idea of fun as "serendipity"~

    ACey - And taking risks can be a form of confidence. I guess what I'm saying is that my deep pleasures include reading, sewing, and gardening, and that it is the pleasantly unexpected that creates my "fun" within that pleasure. I want to look for that and appreciate it, try new ways of doing things, and not take things for granted.

  6. Want to have fun blogging? I just read about "Babeling" over at With Heart and Hands. Translate English into a language and then translate it back into English. It's a hoot! Do you recognize this from your post?

    I will try to recall me to wonder what I did for the recreation recently. If I cannot propose a situation which adapts, I will try to think of one. Manufacture projects for a voyage to a seedbed, a system of eiderdown, or a museum; a day trip some share; to obtain tickets with the events, but to add the ATTITUDE.

  7. Provocative post. defines "fun" as something that provides mirth or amusement: A picnic would be fun.

    I agree with this definition. (And a picnic would be fun.)

    What do I do for fun? I have a lot of fun. Cooking for friends, seeing my kids, having friends visit, the zoo, live theater, golf, the beach, live music, throwing frisbee for my dog, riding the train, Las Vegas, sailing, parades, jigsaw puzzles, playing bridge on a Sunday afternoon, the farmer's market, jazz festival, hiking, camping, Mexico.

    Hey--maybe I'm desperately seeking a good time. Well, I'm having a lot of fun along the way.

  8. Nellie - That is fun! See, that's what I mean...the surpising little turns of phrase kind of make the brain smile. What I wrote was ordinary, the translation is full of unexpected surprises! Thanks, Nellie.

    Rian - These are exactly the things I want to be more aware of and make more time for and give appropriate attention to!

    Also Rian, you are the kind of person I mentioned earlier who makes an adventure out of anything. You are opening your heart and appreciating your life.

    That is my goal right now. Well, I'm still not all that interested in cooking, but I love eating!

  9. I agree with Kay that sometimes 'fun' as interpreted by some is an artificial concept. My definition is more akin to serendipity; being in the moment; joy. Sometimes it means just being silly -- so remember that tomorrow is April Fool's Day! You can't take yourself to seriously. :)

  10. Cam - I agree, too. For some people fun is all external...which I think ACey mentioned. What I liked about your original post is that fun included the idea of being in the moment, of appreciating the smaller things, and of being willing to look for that joy.


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