There, I’ve said it. The F word. Say it loud, say it proud. The F word can raise eyebrows, cause some people to cringe and others to gasp. It is a word that has many meanings and depends on the context in which it is uttered. The F word is versatile, that’s for sure.
Yep. Fun is definitely…whoa, wait a minute! What word did you think I was talking about? Shame! Fun! The F word.
When was the last time you had fun? I mean, real, honest to goodness, laugh-your-face-off fun? Real “fun” is different from having a good time. Fun is letting go, flying by the seat of your pants, and forgetting who you are. Fun.
Merriam Webster defines fun as something that provides amusement or enjoyment, specifically playful, often boisterous actions or speech. When we were kids, we had fun. We played. We imagined worlds with all sorts of adventures. We weren’t worried about rules, about paying bills, about setting an example. We just had fun. I remember spending hours playing on a snow-covered dirt pile beside a neighbourhood basement excavation. I would pretend there was a sasquatch living on that mountain, and I had to find it. There were paths, cliffs, and caves to search. It was so much fun! I still get a warm feeling when I see a snow-covered pile leftover from a basement dig…then I immediately shift into adult mode and think of all the dangers this activity could present. I wonder if my parents felt the same way, seeing me balanced precariously on top of the world…well, at least my world.
What happened to that fun-loving kid? Well, she eventually turned into an adult and became encumbered with rules, expectations, and responsibilities. Life became busy and priorities shifted. Rather than exploring snow-covered dirt piles, she explored various phases of life: family, career, family, family… you get it. And now, as retirement sets in and some of those responsibilities have shifted, it is time to find that fun-loving kid again.
In my search for how to do that, I discovered a super cool website, escapeadulthood.com. This site is the brainchild of Jason and Kim Kotecki. Many aspects of the site resonated with me, including the assessment for Adultitis which I discovered I have. (And I bet you suffer from it, too!) Another interesting piece is the blog about Jason’s book, “Penguins Can’t Fly.”
“Life is supposed to be fun. We knew this instinctively as kids, but somehow forgot on the way to adulthood. We got busy and overwhelmed, started valuing things that don’t matter, and learned to follow a ton of so-called rules:
- Hate Monday
- Only celebrate when the calendar gives you permission
- Don’t make a mess
- Don’t play hookey
- Hide your weirdness
- Hide your wrinkles
- Care what other people think.”
Well said, Jason. Who created those rules? And why did we feel we had to live by them and pass them on to future generations? When did we, as children, reach the stage where we felt it was necessary to start living by those rules and leave our imagination behind? No wonder our inner child often kicks and screams to come out and play!
The inner child is often referred to as one’s true self, the small child within us that never grew up. You know, the one who hasn’t experienced Jason Kotecki’s Penguins Can’t Fly rules. The inner child lives in our hearts and our mind. They sometimes never come out, but if they are discovered, the results can be incredible. Of course, some people have a wounded inner child and may need more work, even professional help, to heal this child and have a better life. Those who had a healthy childhood will experience more “fun” and joy if they get reacquainted with their inner child. I think at some time or another we all search for our inner child, whether on a conscious or subconscious level.
So, how do we connect with our inner child? Is it important? There are lots of articles online about healing your wounded inner child. I’m not a psychologist, so I will not get into that area. I do believe in intergenerational trauma and the importance of reaching out to the inner child to heal. For now, let’s just look at connecting with that child so that we can experience fun again. ..in retirement.
Connecting is a pretty easy thing to do. You don’t even have to go into a deep, transcendental meditative state. Thank goodness for that, because I don’t have time! How about this: next time you go for a walk, clear your mind. Don’t think of all the things you have to do, the things that you could be doing rather than walking, or the things that you won’t be able to do because you chose to go for a walk. All those responsibilities will wait for you to finish. Quiet your mind, then let it wander. Look closely at your surroundings. Do you see a perfectly manicured, colour-coordinated front yard? Look again. Do you see a magical fairyland full of colour and possibilities? Hmmmm. Just remember to look both ways when you cross the street!
Try to pay more attention to your thoughts. How many times a day do you think, “I’d like to try that!” I’m constantly dealing with “Oooh. I could do that.” Or “Oooh. If I changed this and did that, it would work.” I have a serious Pinterest addiction! Jot the idea down, and at the end of the day, pick one or two that are feasible. You may not be able to go on a mountain trek this week, but maybe you could try that new recipe. Or start writing that book. Don’t hold back. If you feel like laughing, laugh. Laugh until the tears fall. Don’t worry about being judged. At our age, it doesn’t matter what others think, right? Give yourself permission to have fun! Read more about finding your inner child here.
And maybe that is what it boils down to, giving ourselves permission to have fun and not worrying about how others will react. Maybe they will join you in a huge belly laugh, or a quick game of hopscotch as you meander down the street. And if you see me, I’ll be looking for a big pile of dirt and all the possibilities it holds!