Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 19, 2013

Reconnecting with fun


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Fun is good. That statement may seem obvious to most but I’m guessing some of you know it’s easy to forget that fact.

Fun is good for you mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually — the basic and crucial parts of our lives. But we sometimes forget the importance of fun.

I just returned from a whole week of fun. In fact it was so fun, we stayed two extra days. I hadn’t had a week of complete fun and relaxation in a long, long time. It was the second week I traveled this summer and it confirmed the suspicions I had the first week: Fun is a necessity of life.

Unlike the first week of fun, this second week took place with my beloved and very fun husband while my beloved and very fun daughter was happily ensconced in camp where she was having even more fun. Because the fun was maximized for everyone, my relaxation was raised to levels not recently seen — which resulted in even more elevated levels of fun.

There are various reasons many of us forget to, or become unable to, have high concentrated levels of fun. We forget to have fun because we are busy, buried under responsibilities that eat up the hours available for fun. Some people are working long hours, mothering children, caring for family members, managing a home, or juggling various combinations of all of the above. Fun gets pushed to the back burner and eventually the person forgets it exists. Sometimes they squeeze in two hours of fun here or there, but it isn’t enough to fully escape and feel fully revived.

Then there are others who are dealing with a difficult health crisis, experiencing a job loss, facing serious financial problems, struggling with family upheaval due to divorce or have lost a loved one. These are devastating and frightening experiences that eradicate any expectation of fun. The people managing these kinds of pressures, pain and emotional burdens feel lucky to get to the end of the day without pulling out their hair or drowning in tears. Fun is not on the radar because they are too busy trying to breathe. They are genuinely incapable of having true, relaxed and rejuvenating fun. But, one day, their time will come — if they remember that fun is good and good for them.

For whatever reason, some of us forget that fun not only lifts our immediate mood but buoys our emotions to carry us through the rougher waters. Fun is like an electrical impulse that zaps your brain, stimulating you to think and feel beyond the necessary drudgery of everyday tasks. Fun renews your heart and soul. Fun excites and energizes your body.

“It is through play that we do much of our learning,” writes Dr. Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally recognized authority on brain development and children in crisis. “We learn best when we are having fun. Play, more than any other activity, fuels healthy development of children — and the continued healthy development of adults.”

Returning home after a full week of continued healthy development, I discovered real fun in unexpected places. When I missed a favorite fitness class, I found myself having fun on the elliptical machine that I’d previously declared monotonous. I was smiling and enjoying myself. Shockingly, I was having fun.

There were a few moments — OK, hours — of re-entry into normal life that were, frankly, downright unpleasant and miserable. Trust me, a broken freezer full of food that sat in a baking garage for several days is not a pleasant welcome home. But once we toiled through that and some additional problems, we found sitting down with a pizza, a bottle of wine and our favorite TV show to be unusually great fun.

So fun begat fun. Remembering what fun feels like left me finding little tastes of it that I ate as hungrily as I did the bountiful banquet of fun the previous week. I’m realizing that I don’t have to go away for a week, escaping all responsibilities and stressors, to have fun. I can steal moments of it and have the same lift in my mood, the same refreshment and restoration. I can look for five minutes or five hours of fun where I might not have seen or experienced it before.

There may come moments in our lives where we think we will never laugh, smile, feel hope or encounter fun ever again. And we won’t — if we decide to cling to that belief and adopt it as our mantra. But I want to encourage those who’ve given up on having time for fun, or even being able to recognize it, to reconsider what is fun or what could become a fun surprise.

Life is tough sometimes. Terrible things happen. There may be no fun on the horizon. But wait. Keep looking over that dark horizon because one day you may eventually see it: Here comes the fun.

Jaletta Albright Desmond is a columnist who writes about faith, family, and the fascinatingly mundane aspects of daily life. She lives in North Carolina with her family. Contact her at jdesmond@bdtonline.com.