A couple of days ago, I asked my friend Chad if he was still keeping up with his one-second-a-day video compilations. It’s an app that prompts you to take daily videos, and then to string one-second clips together into a montage. It’s really something, what you can tell about a person’s life and times in seeing just one second a day.
Anyway, Chad said that, yes, in fact he is keeping up with them and has been for about two full years now. He sent me his one-second-a-day montage from his summer of travel with his wife, Kate (a video that came in at under two minutes long). What I saw intermixed with more serene moments or breathtaking scenery was lots of smiles, raucous laughter, belly flops onto beds, practical jokes.
I suggested to Chad that he should use these short videos in some of his presentations, simply showing the video and then asking people: “Never mind for now what you just saw in those out-of-context moments. What did you feel while watching that video?”
Chad thought this was a good idea. But in typical Chad form, he turned my own question on me: “What did you feel while watching it, Erik?”
I told him that I felt “uplifted, curious, like I wanted to be there.” But in that moment, I also had an unexpected yet important personal revelation:
I’m not fun.
Actually, that’s not accurate. I am fun. I know how to have fun. I love to have fun. I’m just not having fun.
No, that’s not quite it, either. I’m having fun – I’m just not having a certain kind of fun.
I’ll see if I can explain.
I enjoy my life. I’m never bored.
Just recently, I had a certain kind of “fun” on a wonderful vacation. I had plenty of time to read (fantasy, my relaxation genre) and eat tangy lime pops and see some good movies. And I would not be lying to say I had “fun” doing these things. But it was “solitary fun,” and that’s a different kind of fun than what I mean.
I certainly ventured out and talked with people. I had some really cool interactions. I got to speak with people in three different languages other than my native language; and that is “fun” for me. It’s a challenge and it excites me. But it’s not quite what I mean by “fun” today.
In fact, much of my life is about choices to engage with the world in ways that I really do enjoy. In a very real sense, having deep conversations is “fun” for me. Solving problems is “fun.” Even right now, as I write, I’m enjoying myself. It’s “fun.” But again, my epiphany of a few days ago concerned a different kind of fun than these things.
I’m talking about crazy fun. Tear-inducing fun. Adrenaline-pumping fun. Milk-out-the-nose kind of fun. Cheeks-feeling-like-you-blew-up-too-many-balloons kind of fun.
I’m a creative guy. And not much if anything embarrasses me. So I’m pretty darned comfortable being silly. I wrote in The Best Advice So Far (and in a prior post) about times when I’ve laughed myself right into a near conniption, crumpled in a useless heap on the floor. Those times have been many.
I’m the type who can take a practical joke to the extreme, enjoying the plotting as much as the elaborate execution.
I love having inside jokes with a friend over the most ridiculous of things, and then getting each other going, mounting on the ridiculousness until we’re both howling or neither of us can speak at all.
I’m the type to drive to the beach in the middle of a wild downpour and just run around getting soaked.
I’m usually the first to pose (or take) the dare, with brazen eyes and a stalwart resolve.
But what I realized this week … is that I haven’t had this kind of silly, crazy fun in a while. Somehow, I’ve let “serious fun” completely replace the childlike kind.
And that’s not good.
Some of you think I’m off my rocker right now. You’re wondering why any adult would feel that silliness, mattress dives, water gun fights, laughing with wild abandon or the like should be done on the regular – or, moreover, why they might actually be important.
All I can tell you is this. I know how I feel when these things are a part of my life. And I can recognize the “something missing” when they are not. I know how awake and alive and creative and connected I feel when I share these kinds of moments with people, as opposed to when I’ve gone too long without.
Need something more scientific? OK. Then I challenge you to run an experiment of your own. Join me in adding some crazy fun back into your life. Collect the data. And then decide for yourself if the additions were worthwhile.
As children, we knew the secrets to joy and laughter and big self-expression – knowledge we tend to forget or leave by the wayside as we get older. But I’ve never been able for the life of me to understand why we would abandon the better parts of ourselves for drudgery or perpetual seriousness. I’ll take this opportunity to say once more, being childlike does not mean being childish or irresponsible.
From ancient times, the wise knew that “laughter is the best medicine.” I’m overdue for a good dose of crazy fun. How about you?