I used to be of the opinion that we should all do at least one fun thing every single day. I’ve updated that thought. I now believe that it’s better to do one fun thing at least every two hours (while you’re awake — I count sleeping as something fun, personally).
I am an early riser. Illogically early. As someone who works for myself and gets to set my own schedule every single day, the fact that my eyes pop open at 5:32am every single morning feels absurd to me, but it doesn’t seem to be something over which I have any control. I am also not a person who can linger in bed once I’m awake. I take a minute to check in with myself, hand on heart, and figure out what I need to do or have in order to feel completely resourced for the day ahead, and then I’m up, feet swinging over the side of the bed, dogs leaping after me, and we’re off. All of this is to say that I’ve done so many fun things already today, and it’s not even noon.
I realize that this might sound a bit Pollyanna, at the least, and privileged as HELL at the worst. And I’m here to say, I think it’s really not either of those things. I think it’s more about equanimity.
My life isn’t all kittens and roses over here. Some of my beloveds are really struggling with some big things. My mom’s husband died a month ago and, like my mom, it had been a really long time since I saw him in person, so it is as if the second person I really love just vanished off the face of the planet without me getting to say good-bye. The world is on fire, our systems are crumbling, yada yada yada. You know all that. And, if I don’t hold the good and the bad simultaneously, I’m never going to feel what it feels to be fully human. If I only choose the good and work to ignore the pain and the struggle and the rage, I’m not whole. If I only sink into the crap and wallow, I’m not whole. Enter: equanimity. I can hold both. I am whole.
Many of us have been trained to do this thing where we compartmentalize our lives – work first and then play, grieve a bit and then “get on with it.” We have let ourselves believe that there is a time and a place for fun, and it comes later. Or when we’re on vacation (and then, by God, you’d better cram all the fun things into that one small set of days so that you can feel like you’ve thoroughly enjoyed yourself before you get back to “real life”). I call bullshit. We do not exist on this planet to toil endlessly, or even for 68% of our lives and then we’ve ‘earned’ the right to play. I honestly think that practicing finding joy and fun in every single day is the thing that will keep us fresh for the fight – you know, the one that has been pressing down on us for decades behind the scenes of our everyday work lives. We don’t need to ask permission to have fun, and fun doesn’t have to be something planned or elaborate (although if you want to grab a bunch of your friends and head to the karaoke bar or bowling alley this weekend, I wholeheartedly support you).
Like I said, it’s not even noon here, and I’ve already laughed out loud several times. I started my day on the beach with my dogs at low tide and I found the perfect stick (not for the dogs – for me) and used it to draw weird shapes and smiley faces in the sand. Call me simple, but it was fun. I gathered a pocket full of green and blue sea glass and when I got home, I dumped them all into a jar I have that sits in the windowsill and it made me smile. I got some work done, and then a little while later, I took five minutes to find my friend Rosie’s Instagram story because she always has the best memes and they make me laugh out loud. And a couple hours after that, while I was prepping food to throw into the crock pot, I turned on some music and danced while I chopped. (If you need a suggestion, I highly recommend Remi Wolf’s song Monte Carlo because it’s irreverent and bouncy and makes me happy every damn time I hear it).
I have no idea what other fun things I’ll find today, but I do know that when I stop every once in a while and look around for something fun to do for a minute or two or twelve, by the time I get to the end of the day, I feel a whole hell of a lot better. I haven’t solved any of the huge problems of the world, but I feel more balanced and whole, and like I’ve chosen myself in some small way that feels big. It can be hard to think of things in the beginning, but I swear, once you start, it gets easier. Find yourself a friend like Rosie who curates the funniest shit. Get a book of Dad jokes that crack you up. Make a playlist of music that gets you dancing. Text a friend with a “random question of the day” (I do that a lot and I’m sure people think I’m weird, but … well, they’re right). Go for a walk with a piece of chalk and write goofy things on the sidewalk when nobody’s looking. Get your favorite candy and sit in a recliner for five minutes, tossing pieces in the air to see if you can catch them in your mouth (not with the dogs around, if you have dogs, though – that’s a recipe for disaster). Get some Play-Doh and squish your hands through it and make little critters. Whatever sounds fun to you. Find it. Do it. Every two hours at least. I’m not a doctor, but I think it’s a good prescription for health.