Saturday, January 22, 2011

Try Having a Little Fun Sometime 2/30

A good friend of mine posted a great video on her Facebook today (handy little thing that Facebook).  Here's a link to the video.

I have discovered I don’t like actually putting video clips in here - it messes up the scrolling and formatting just a tad too much.  Yeah, I actually am that anal.  So go watch that video.  It is only about a minute and a half long.  I’ll wait.

Back?  Hello?  Hmmm…

Ah!  There you are.  So, great video huh?  Not a bad idea really.  Take a mundane and boring task, like climbing stairs, add in an element of fun, and suddenly people are doing something they used to hate and laughing while they do it.

Does it work in reality?  Sure, the novelty of making music as you walk up the stairs would keep you climbing them for a while, but how long would you really do it?  I hate to say it, but I rather doubt that you would keep it up too long at all.  And you know why?  Because you are an adult.  At least chronologically.  And that is a shame.

You want to watch people having fun doing things that we consider boring?  Find a child under the age of ten.

One of my first blog posts, entitled “Playing Shovels”, was about the fun that Noah and I have shoveling the driveways of our home.  Hard, backbreaking work that very few people enjoy.  One of those oddballs who does so is my son.  He loves shoveling it, laughs madly while tossing snow, and gets sad when the rain washes it away before he can shovel it.  He’s pleasantly insane, and when I’m with him, sometimes so am I.

Tonight, to test this “fun theory”, and knowing that Noah was one for games and fun, I tried something new when it was time for the boys to do their evening cleanup.  I made it a race.  And Noah, rather than his usual disgruntled compliance, jumped at the chance.  He cheered when he “won” and teased his brother that he would win again tomorrow.  He probably will, Griff didn’t want to play the game and hates cleaning up.

Anyone that has kids can probably relate to this amazing capacity for fun that kids seem to have.   Go to any beach when the water is cold and look at who is in the water - children.  Dozens of them, teeth chattering, fingernails purple and lips blue.  You can see the lips from quite a distance, because they are all smiling and laughing.  Their parents?  Huddled on the beach after putting one toe into the water and declaring “No way!” 

Children find enjoyment in the strangest places and the smallest things.  Hell, banging loudly on a roasting pan can keep Griffin occupied for hours (yes, we spend a lot on Tylenol here), and give Noah a flashlight to play with and he’ll be exploring dark “caves” for days.

I think the real transition from childhood to adulthood is the first time a child utters the words “I’m bored.”

When and why do we lose this ability to be fascinated and entertained by the world around us?  Why do we come to believe we need xbox and iPod and HDTV and thousands of dollars worth of computer hardware to have fun?  When do we stop looking at a refrigerator box as a source of amusement and start seeing it as a nuisance to fold up and take out to the trash?

The when, while academically interesting, is really the secondary question there though.  The why is far more important.  What is it about adults that leads us to be less adventurous, less daring and less able to entertain ourselves?  Is it the knowledge that we’re mortal?  Is it the years of experience in getting hurt that makes us shy to take chances?  Those are likely factors to explain why we avoid the more risky behaviours we might once have engaged in, but they don’t explain why we lose the ability to make everyday things fun.

And when we do these things, when we drive down the street making race car sounds, or fart in the tub just to see the bubbles, we laugh.  Unless another adult sees us, then we blush and stammer and try to change the subject.  Newsflash folks, race car sounds are cool, no matter your age, and farts are funny.  Especially when they make bubbles in the tub.  Most especially when those bubbles are purple.  What????

We’re told all through our late childhood and early adolescence to “grow up” to “stop acting silly” and to “be a big boy / girl”.  Society wants us to be sober, hard-working, reliable, blah blah blah… boring people.  Yet we all have that friend that doesn’t fit the mold.  You know the one I am talking about.  He plays in a jazz band.  She lived in a yurt in Mongolia for a year.  She dropped out of law school to be a street performer in Montreal.  He is a circus performer.  She lived out of her backpack for two years travelling through South America.  We secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, want to be these people.  We dream of what it would be like to do these “crazy” things, to be able and willing to put our dreams and our fun ahead of what society tells us we are supposed to do.  But we have mortgages, families, car payments and pensions to think about.  So we dream and we wonder.

Here’s the thing.  And this is what I thought about when I saw that video.  We can still have fun.  We can still laugh at our farts.  We can giggle like idiots and not feel embarrassed when a stranger on the bus sees us.  We can jump into that icy water and splash each other.  We can remember what it was like to be a child, to face the world with wild abandon and take joy in the mundane – we just have to try a little harder.

Now some of you are thinking “But I already do that stuff!  I have fun all the time!”  Bully for you.  Now go back to the beginning of this, read it again.  If you can still say that it doesn’t apply to you, you’re a damned lucky person and I envy you.  Please tell me how you do it.

For the rest of us, here’s our challenge for the week.  Do something outrageous, something childlike and fun.  Don’t do it because I said it would be a hoot.  Don’t do it to prove you can.. Do it because your soul needs to be reminded it’s alive and well.


  1. The words "I'm bored" start popping up when your kids start hanging out with their friends at school. In my experience.

    My mother used to say: "only boring people get bored".

    But I'll tell you, the best way to keep your kids from whining about being bored is the tried-and-true: "Awesome! If you're bored, it means you can't come up with something to amuse yourself with, so here is a list of three things that need to be done! Pick one to do, and if you're still bored, there will be two more!"

    I got my entire bathroom floor scrubbed with that one!

    Also-too, I don't think that remembering to play has anything to do with refusing to fit the mold and going away to live in a yurt for a year. To me, it's more of an active brain thing. Folks who've forgotten (or who choose not to remember) how to play...folks who are "too serious" or whatever...these folks pay an awful lot of money to "get away from it all" and to 'unwind'.

    But if you're unwound all the time, if you *choose* to run and slide across the sidewalk rather than walk, if you choose to shout silly things just to see people smile, I think that you'll live longer, and you'll live better.

    I really do think that sometimes, folks just get caught up in 'should', you know? Which always leads to 'must/mustn't', which usually leads to things being far too serious.

    At my father-in-law's retirement party (he was the youngest highly-placed muckity-muck in one of the biggest companies in western Canada), I was assigned the task of taking pictures. Afterwards, in going through the pictures, my mum-in-law asked how I managed to get a picture of the president and his entire table of even more highly placed muckity-mucks smiling. She said, 'that man never smiles'.

    I said, "it was easy! I offered him a shiny quarter!"

    The room went silent, and my mum-in-law's face went white. "You didn't." She said.

    "I did!" I exclaimed.

    My father-in-law started to laugh. Apparently, this story still comes up from time to time, and apparently, the man still talks about the time he was offered a shiny quarter to smile pretty for the camera. My crackpot hypothesis is that it worked because he got to be a kid for five minutes.

    That being said, I totally want piano stairs.

  2. The funny part is, when I wrote that challenge, I could only think of a couple of people that I knew that would honestly be able to turn to me and say "Hey, I do that stuff all the time"... you were at the top of that list Ceno.

    Never change.

  3. Aw.


    I don't know if I'm in the "Hey, I do that stuff all the time" camp, but I do still laugh like a (politically incorrect epithet coming up) retard when someone gives me a cup with peanuts in.