Practicing Fun

It's true. For years I've tried to hide from it, but today I'm saying it out loud.  I'm no fun. There. It's in the open now.

Party fucking Tuesdays! Maximizing the fun-level! Party all the time! Not too long ago, these words were in my vocabulary. They were an indispensable part of my vernacular. Now they're distant cousins that I only see at family reunions and funerals. High-fives replaced by polite nodding; party hats replaced by regular hats.

It might be said that I'm growing up, but I suspect that I was never really fun.  I have no idea what it feels like to be carefree, capricious, and take the scenic route. I'm a studier, a system maker, a slave to efficiency. And I'm happy. Taking things seriously works for me, and while I do a number of things that, by anyone's definition, should be construed as fun,  I don't think fun-proper interests me. For clarification I've included a list of activities I regularly engage in: pinball, improvisation, comedy, writing, riding my bike, reading, playing disc golf, bowling, and playing guitar. Now to the eye unfamiliar with my breed, one might be fooled into thinking that my life is riddled fun, even overwhelmed by it. But fun and I rarely dance. We stand on opposite sides of the dance floor drinking non-alcoholic, non-carbonated, low-sugar beverages out of our Nalgenes.

Fun doesn't interest me.  Letting loose, letting my hair down, taking it easy: these things bore me. I don't want to loosen my tie. I like buttoning my shirt all the way to the top. Practice interests me.  Mastery fascinates me. If there is a way to staple well (i.e. more efficiently, more beautifully, more perfectly), I'll find it. I don't play guitar, I practice it. There's no value judgement. I don't hate fun (though I've been accused of it many times). But, when faced with an activity, my instinct is to find ways to improve, not enjoy. My joy is born of progress. Getting better gets me off.

In my triumphant up-my-own-assedness, the irony finally sets in. Fun, joy, and playfulness are cornerstones of greatness.  LeBron James looks like he's drinking a Coke on a hot summer's day. He's not digging ditches. Fun is what helps the rough edges disappear. And in many ways, I'm digging ditches and doing a lot of heavy lifting. Contradictory ideas not present themselves in the unyielding pursuit of greatness:  (i)  I want to improve rather than have fun and (ii) fun is instrumental to improvement.

I see now that premise (i) is flawed and that premise (ii) is a tenable alternative. However, I'm not sure if I can put my body where the fun is. I'd like to think that I can be swayed by a sound argument, but this involves a fundamental reinvention of my way of being. I'm not sure I know how to take myself less seriously. This stick is pretty much one with my ass. Perhaps fun and improvement are not mutually exclusive. Having convinced myself that fun is necessary component of my goal of eventually being perfect, I may have to start having some fun. A reasoned philosophical argument might be the only way to get me to have fun. Let the practicing of fun commence!   

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