This story was forwarded to me this morning and I loved the message it conveyed. I’m sharing it with my Third Place readers in the hopes that all of you enjoy it as much as I did.
Are You Having Fun?
I was talking to an old friend. He asked the usual questions.
“Everyone is great.”
“Busier than ever.”
“But are you having fun?”
He asked the question as any child of the ‘60s would ask it. The anthem we sang as young men was, “If It Feels Good, Do It.” Live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse. Life is kicks, fun, adrenaline: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Dylan Thomas, Anna Nicole, Paris Hilton.
I wasn’t sure how to answer his question.
At the root of every misunderstanding is a lack of definition of terms.
“Fun” is a term that screams for definition:
Late at night, ask a weary mother nursing a sick child, “Are you having any fun?”
Ask Mohandas Gandhi on the 20th day of a hunger strike, “Are you having any fun?”
Ask Martin Luther King in Birmingham City Jail, “Are you having any fun?”
Each of these saw a change that was needed and happily paid the price to bring that change to pass. But change never happens quickly.
“The North Americans’ sense of time is very special. They are short on patience. Everything must be quick, including food and sex, which the rest of the world treats ceremoniously. Gringos invented two terms that are untranslatable into most languages: ‘snack’ and ‘quickie,’ to refer to eating standing up and loving on the run … that, too, sometimes standing up. The most popular books are manuals: how to become a millionaire in ten easy lessons, how to lose fifteen pounds a week, how to recover from your divorce, and so on. People always go around looking for shortcuts and ways to escape anything they consider unpleasant: ugliness, old age, weight, illness, poverty, and failure in any of its aspects.”
– Isabel Allende, My Invented Country
My friend Don Kuhl is one of the world’s leading experts on how change happens. A couple of weeks ago Don said something on the telephone that I hastily scribbled down: “Change is not an event. It’s a tiny decision made over and over again. Change isn’t once. It’s daily.”
I recorded Don’s words because I heard in them an echo of the note my father scribbled to my sister and I as he struggled for one last breath in his final 60 seconds: “All the little things in life add up to your life. If you don’t get it right, nothing else matters.”
If you define fun as reckless, heady abandon spiraling upwards to climax in an intoxicating sense of personal freedom and power, then no, I’m not having any.
But if you define fun as the little things in life that add up to your life, nursing a child, doing without, paying the price for what you believe, then I would have to say that I’m having quite a time.
The time of my life.
Roy H. Williams