Discover more from FIELD NOTES
We know fun when we feel it 🎢
P.S. Roller coasters are NOT my idea of fun. Nor is jumping from heights.
Growing up, there was a five-word phrase that made me cringe. Shrink. Tense up.
Whether or not I showed it on the outside, it filled me with dread, annoyance, and even a sense of resentment.
“But it will be fuuuuuuun!”
I remember I was at summer camp in Ontario, maybe nine years old, when a fellow camper led me up to the high diving platform — three metres up — and said these exact words before she grabbed my hand and tried to get me to jump. Fortunately, my hands were wet and slippery. I managed to slide mine out of hers as she leaped off the platform and down she went, leaving me standing there, alone and motionless, with my skinny legs and polka dot bathing suit for all the campers around me to see.
The pressure was on.
I stood there, frozen. It was as if my feet were glued to the wooden planks. I simply didn’t want to jump.
But then the voices began chanting.
“You can do it, Meghan!”
“Don’t think about it, just jump!”
I think it was meant to be encouraging, but it only added to the pressure.
As I stood there, the seconds ticked by as hours. The longer I stood, the more embarrassed I felt. I took some breaths and debated going back down the ladder.
Would it be better to do the thing I hated than to be known as a chicken?
Then: out of the blue, I jumped. My heart leaped into my throat and I couldn’t breathe as I fell to the lake below. When I surfaced, I didn’t hear cheers; perhaps I missed them while I was underwater. All that for no one to notice!? People simply resumed their business as I made my way to the docks on the other side, still panting, and slithered out like I’d survived a shipwreck.
Now I’m all about people facing their fears, but this is not what this article is about.
This piece is about fun.
There is something the other people there that day maybe didn’t know about me. As a kid, I was blind as a bat. I’ve had laser eye surgery since then, but when I was a kid, before I got contact lenses in middle school, I literally couldn’t see ANYTHING when I was swimming. Standing on a three-metre platform may as well have been 25 metres. I had no concept of depth, or how high I was. So, beyond the fact that I don’t like the feeling of not being able to breathe — which is exactly what happened the one and only time I’ve been on a roller coaster — the nine-year-old Meghan felt like she was jumping into an abyss.
So, here’s where this brings me. A few weeks ago a friend and I had a conversation about fun, and what it means for us. Fun is something she values, to the extent that it’s the ultimate point of life for her. Like belly laughs, ridiculousness, maybe some intoxication kind of fun. But this brought up some interesting feelings in me as I came to recognize my complicated relationship with fun.
Beyond the diving platform experience, I can trace a general trend in my life. When something doesn’t feel like fun to me, it not only isn’t fun, but it brings up feelings of anxiety for me. It was the same for high school or university drinking parties: not fun. If there was music blaring and people were shouting: really not fun. The same goes for pubs where people are trying to talk but no one can hear each other. I’m honestly miserable. At least take me to live music where I’m not expected to talk.
Oh, and never blindfold me and put me in the back of a car so you can take me to a surprise party. 😉 (I still love you, gals!)
My list could go on, but I think you get the picture.
For me, fun looks like uninterrupted reading time, a coffee date one-on-one with a friend, a hike with my family, or a night in with board games. These may not sound like fun, but these experiences stir up the same feelings in me that I think others get from a wilder definition of fun.
It just feels like fun.
And, for me, the wild kind of fun is the kind I can’t plan, that just happens, and I feel totally cool with it.
I still have some unavoidable situations where I’m lassoed into what other people declare is “fun” even when it’s not fun for me. In those scenarios, I’ve learned to appreciate the fun that will ensue afterwards — in the jokes, the retelling, and perhaps the bonding experience.
So why a whole article about fun?
Because I think we all need more fun in our lives, especially my fellow moms with young children, who may not remember what it’s like to do something for themselves. Fun allows us to momentarily “escape.” It’s like a shot of B12 that fuels us at the soul-level.
But fun isn’t the same for everyone, so embrace your own version of it. Pressuring someone to have fun — by your definition — can perhaps do more harm than good. I’ve since learned to have firmer boundaries and to accept that being a chicken and opting out is sometimes best for me.
I never learned to like jumping from heights, even after I had my eyes fixed. I’m not sure I’ll ever enjoy riding rollercoasters, either.
But you can guarantee I had fun writing this piece for you.
Because that’s my jam.
👋 Not yet a subscriber? Field Notes is free to subscribe to and get right in your inbox. For those who are able to invest in my writing with their dollars, I also offer a paid subscription, with extra perks, at just $6/month or $65/year. 🙏
What’s caught my attention lately… ✨
What is Fun? Can I Have It? Will We Ever Have It Again? Thanks to my pal Stasia for this recommendation. It’s a curious piece about what fun is and isn’t - and how we know when we’re having it.
Beautiful Writers: A Journey of Big Dreams and Messy Manuscripts — with Tricks of the Trade from Bestselling Authors, by Linda Sivertsen, just arrived in the mail for me! I first came to know Linda through her podcast and she’s been a real inspiration for me as a writer. Other writers I think will appreciate this book!
A wee request… ✨
Are you on Goodreads? If so, please consider adding Lights to Guide Me Home to a shelf! You can also pre-order or add it to a Wish List on Amazon. OK, OK, even better: go to your local bookstore and ask them about ordering it! 😊
Check these out too… 🙌
My Email Newsletter - Updates about my books, projects, and 1:1 coaching.
Lights to Guide Me Home - Coming September 27, 2022!
Lights to Guide Me Home ✨ is now available for pre-order!
Ask your fav bookstore to order it in or check out all the order options on my website!