Today is the first “Fun Friday” of 2022. Usually, I try to publish a “Made-up Word Monday” and a “Fun Friday” post here every week on my little midlife-woman-reinventing-herself blog. Today, I’m wondering about the definition of fun, and how it changes in midlife.
I’m reading the book Fun – How to Feel Alive Again, by Catherine Price. Price writes that true fun is active, magical, and childlike, and has three key components:
Playfulness is not invested in any outcome, efficiency, or purpose, according to Price. I’ve described my learning how to make bourbon as a whiskey intern, and my learning how to kayak, as “fun.” But since I definitely was invested in an outcome (a. not fucking up a company’s product, and b. not drowning), I guess I’ll call these activities… “enjoyable?” “Fulfilling?” “Freakin’ awesome?”
Connection involves other people. Yes, even for introverts, who may only involve one or a few others. As a not-shy introvert who finds large groups of people energy-draining, I can relate to this.
Flow is when you become immersed in something and lose track of time because you’re completely engrossed and present in the moment. Price makes the point that screen time — on social media (such as this blog…yikes) or on streaming services (such as Netflix) — is “fake fun.” Yeah, you can lose track of time alright. But fake fun, she explains, is activities and pursuits deliberately designed by a commercial enterprise to “trick us into thinking we are having fun.”
Children instinctively know how to have true fun. Until we screw them up with screens, trendy tech devices, and over-scheduling. Price encourages us to be more childlike when we choose where to direct our attention. Instead of just plopping down on the sofa and starting to scroll on your phone or tablet, “be intentional about where you direct your light.”
In that spirit, for this first Fun Friday of the new year, I thought I’d show you some examples of where I’ve intentionally directed my light for lighthearted, “true fun” that was playful, connected, and flowing.
Today I’m having fun looking at these photos from Portugal. They evoke fun memories of playfulness, connection, and flow during my last week in the country I plan to move to later this year. I know the act of just looking at these photos doesn’t fit Price’s definition of fun. But looking at them reminds me that I’m strong enough to go through with my plan. I feel reassured and calmed. They make me smile, and joy creeps into the space where worry was. Maybe that’s exactly the “fun” I need in this moment of midlife.
Price makes the point that we overuse the word “fun,” and I agree. I know I do. Some activities I might describe as “fun” are passive, not active. Watching a sunrise or meteor shower, for example. Others don’t have the required connection with others, such as the solo walks I love. These things bring me joy, happiness, and contentment, but they don’t check all of Price’s boxes for qualifying as true “fun.” Had I not had that experience in Bangkok — and similar experiences connecting with others in Portugal, Morocco, Egypt, Indonesia, and Japan — I might have disagreed with Price about the impact of connection with others on the fun factor.
I realize as I’ve aged I’ve become more likely to find a solo activity to be just as “fun” as a group activity — even before the pandemic. I wonder why. Is it that my feelings of happiness, joy, peace, contentment, accomplishment, and confidence as a solo midlife woman register as “fun” because they’re so…new?
What about you? What do you think about Price’s definition of fun? What do you do for fun, and how has that changed?
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