Some would say that nothing is less fun than pondering the question, "What is fun?" However, I'm the sort of person who enjoys ponders, and fun is about enjoyment, so I'll press on.
I got to thinking about fun recently by -- no big surprise -- having fun!
This year Laurel and I broke our usual no Halloween costume habit. Salem's RJ Dance Studio invited people to costume-up at a Friday night open dance. So, we did.
I took a more minimalist approach, my costume shopping having been limited to picking up a black mullet wig at WalMart for $8. After adding a hunting cap, shades, and Harley t-shirt I told anyone who asked, plus some who didn't, that I was a rural Oregon meth lab operator.
At any rate, we had fun with our get-ups, notwithstanding the fact that we were the only people at the dance in costumes. I felt like we danced better than usual, having a lot of fun (that word again!), but that might just be the meth contact high speaking.
Then, today sun and semi-warm temperature (50's) led me to fire up my Suzuki Burgman 650 maxi-scooter and two-wheel around for several enjoyable hours. It'd been a week or so since I'd ridden my scooter.
As soon as I hit the main road and opened up the throttle, my mind screamed Wow, this is so much fun!
Putting on a Halloween costume. Ballroom dancing. Scootering. What's the fun-connection that ties them all together? I've got some answers, but they come with a caveat:
I'm just talking about me. At my ripe age of 61 (I hope I never have to say "rotting"), one bit of wisdom I've learned is that fun, like happiness, is almost entirely idiosyncratic.
In the 60's -- the decade, not my age -- we were fond of saying, "If it feels good, do it." That's still excellent advice, so long as some practicalities are taken into consideration. If what feels good is your boss's spouse, and you want to keep your job, some other sort of fun should be contemplated.
I've read several books about the nature of happiness and how to be happier. None made much of an impression on me. I'm especially skeptical of the oft-heard adage that real happiness is more like calm bliss than passionate fun.
If having fun makes me happy, assuming there is any difference between "fun" and "happy," then I need to have more fun. I used to believe that sitting cross-legged in meditation would make me happy. Now I've taken to meditating less and dancing more.
I feel happier. Because dancing is fun. As is scootering and dressing up as a different persona. I come back to why? For me, and maybe only me...
Flowing is fun. Thinking too much makes me feel jagged, rough, jumpy, uncertain. Just doing it without excessive ratiocination, no matter what the "it" is, fills me with energy, confidence, smoothness, connectivity.
For a few moments Friday night I wondered whether my costume was too stupid to wear to the dance. Then I felt, who cares, I want to do it. And proceeded to do it.
Ditto with taking the lead in ballroom dancing. In our several years of lessons I've learned that hesitancy is the kiss of dance death for the leader (usually, a man). It's better to make a wrong move than no move at all.
Plus, it's a lot more fun to take decisive charge of your partner than to waffle around wondering what to do next.
Same applies on a scooter or motorcycle, even more so. If your mind wanders on two non-air-bagged wheels, uncertain whether to move this way or that way when a dangerous situation demands instant action, your next move could be sliding along the pavement.
Focusing is fun. Flowing and focusing might seem at odds, but they aren't for me. When my mind is divided, pulled in several directions at once, I feel neither in the flow nor focused.
In this regard, and going back to the 60's, Benzedrine and Preludin taught me a lot (now, strong coffee is my stimulant of choice). Namely, that just about anything is fun when you're zeroed in on just that thing.
I didn't enjoy the statistics course I had to take for my psychology major. But after popping a "bennie," I remember being utterly fascinated by t-tests and the normal distribution. It was just me and my statistics book for several concentrated fun hours of studying -- no monkey mind jumping around with distracting "this is boring!" chatter.
Ballroom dancing, I've got to attend to the music, to the dance style, to my partner, to other couples. Scootering, I've got to watch out (more so than when driving a car) for other vehicles, imperfections in the pavement, angle and lean of curves.
It's fun to just be in the moment. Not remembering or worrying about the past or future. Simply doing this, now. Then, that. Now.
Buddhists call this mindfulness, I think. But I don't want to over-think flowing and focusing. This blog post has flowed along quite smoothly, my focus aided by -- what else? -- a strong cup of coffee.
In my book about the Greek philosopher Plotinus, I started off the "Happiness is Here" chapter with a sentence that popped out of my mind in a flash, but which I didn't really understand.
Or even entirely agree with. But I left it in the book, because it seemed so true.
In the present moment, you and I are as happy as we will ever be.
So have fun. Now, the only time it will be possible.