Fun and Change
In the summer of 1961 Dad took my older sister and me to the Tivoli Amusement Park in Copenhagen. As we screamed down a roller coaster mountain, Dad turned around and got this picture. We were having terrified fun! I doubt that our shrieking changed anything except to increase the amount of adrenalin in the world.
The photo is just about fun. In this Reflection I want us to consider if we can have fun, and be deadly serious about confronting the social, political, spiritual and environmental crises we face, and make necessary changes. Could it be that it would better serve our work for the planet and the greater good to have more fun?
Before we consider this question, let’s first dive into just plain old fun. How do we have fun in our lives? I’m talking about making our ordinary life situations more fun. I’m not talking about situations that are life-threatening, or tragic with great loss or harm or illness or injury where fun is not even a remote possibility. I’m also not talking about any kind of “fun” activity that would be at someone else’s expense or cause harm in any way.
The dictionary defines fun as “something that provides mirth or enjoyment.” I think having fun is often a matter of seeing things differently, or taking a situation or ourselves less seriously, or dropping expectations of how things should be. For me, a big part of having fun has to do with letting my inner child out to play. Even the usual chores can be more fun if we let ourselves play a little, which can happen anywhere, anytime. I can make a doodle on the envelope when I pay bills. I can whiz my cart down the (empty) grocery aisle at top speed. I can run the vacuum cleaner around the carpet to make curvy designs or do a little jig around the mop handle. If I listen to my inner child and see things through her eyes, (about age 4-10), the possibilities are endless. We overly serious and responsible types sometimes need to set aside our adult agenda, enjoy extra-curricular activities, and let our inner 5 year old take us out to play. One friend suggested “mandatory fun time.”
While we’re looking for more fun in our lives it’s helpful to look more deeply at the situations that cause us to feel frustrated or burdened to see if we might uncover thoughts and beliefs that are at the root of our difficulty. We could then put a more positive or at least neutral spin on the situation. Many of us have been raised to think that having fun is not responsible, and doesn’t serve the greater good. This belief definitely gets in the way of having fun and I’m seriously rethinking that unspoken commandment.
So now on to the question about having fun and making change. Several things inspire me to rethink the value of having fun while “saving the planet.” I think of the TPP protesters and climate change marchers who dressed up in costumes, and carried big colorful signs. They were clearly having a great time and having a big effect on changing policy.
Then there’s Jim Hightower. National radio commentator, public speaker, writer, journalist and popular progressive activist, Hightower is dedicated to change for the common good, and he has fun doing it. His writing is as witty and playful as it is powerfully truthful and informative. I love how he always calls Members of Congress “Congress Critters,” yet I’ve never known him to be disrespectful of anybody, He doesn’t hesitate to bring us the truth of how corrupt and unjust our political and economic systems are, but he always points to how and with whom we can join together for change. He does a regular newsletter called The Hightower Lowdown, which is informative and fun to read. As he says, “Joining with others for the great possibility of America is as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”
As author, humorist, and “cosmic comic” Steve Bhaerman says, ”Particularly in these times of crisis and evolution (both personal and planetary), whole-hearted laughter and mind-expanding humor will help us heal ourselves and be of greater use to others.”
Caroline Casey, visionary activist and mythologist, prays that “the path will open before us that we may be of maximum good while having the most serious and dedicated fun.”
Last month I asked “What ‘s Heaven on Earth for you?” This month, I ask “What’s fun for you and how can you have fun making change?” The two go well together, for as Martin Rutte says (Project Heaven on Earth), “Let’s create Heaven on Earth for the fun of it.” Let’s make change for the fun of it!
I’m having fun thinking about all the things that would be fun for me. What about you? Look, here’s Hafiz to give us some ideas. And my February Reflection on Happiness gives more food for fun.
A Suspended Blue Ocean
Is a suspended blue ocean.
The stars are the fish that swim.
The planets are the white whales
I sometimes hitch a ride on,
And the sun and all light
Have forever fused themselves
Into my heart and upon my skin.
There is only one rule
On this Wild Playground,
For every sign Hafiz has ever seen
Reads the same.
They all say,
“Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun,
In the Beloved’s Divine Game,
O, in the Beloved’s
Resources for Fun and Happiness
“A Brief History of Happiness; How America Lost Track of the Good Life—and Where to Find It Now,”
"Making a Difference Makes You Happy"
"Finding Happiness; 11 Simple Ways to Get Your Smile Back
"The 7-Step Morning Ritual That Will Make You Happy All Day"
Breaking These 13 Habits Will Make You Happier
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