As Labor Day, the “official end of summer” approaches, let’s not forget that just because the kids are back in school, they — and we — don’t have to stop having fun. In fact, relaxing and enjoying ourselves in these fraught and hectic times seems more important than ever.
Australian professor/researcher/author Alan McKee defines fun as “pleasure without purpose.” It is essential, he contends, for living our best lives.
I had not heard of McKee or his 2016 book, Fun! What Entertainment Tells Us About Living a Good Life, until I stumbled upon a recent New York Times quiz and opinion piece by Frank Augugliaro and Jessica Bennett. Who could resist taking an online quiz titled, “What’s Your Fun Vibe? An Unscientific Quiz”?
Always a seeker of deep self-knowledge, I took the quiz — which was fun in and of itself. And the results were surprisingly accurate, or at least confirmed my opinion of my personal fun-ness. After answering 20 questions, my “Fun Vibe” was categorized and described as follows: Low-Key: Gardening, reading a good book, or quietly people-watching is your kind of fun. You’ve been known to say, “We don’t need to drink to have a good time.” All true, although I must say that the two-margarita lunch I recently enjoyed on the deck at Hall’s scored pretty high on my personal fun meter.
So how are you having fun these days? The pandemic has taken a toll on us all, which makes figuring out ways to enjoy ourselves safely and responsibly important. Are you the social type who needs to be around others to have a good time, or are solitary endeavors more appealing to you? There are no right or wrong answers here — only personal preferences — though I suspect that most of us prefer a mixture of social interaction and alone time.
Winchester and Clark County have much to offer in the way of fun — beautiful parks, a lively downtown, scenic rural landscapes, and passionate citizens who care deeply about the community — but fun can also be manifested from within. Years ago, when I lived in rural Fleming County, I worked with a woman from Atlanta who had moved to Flemingsburg several years before I did. We often mused about the leisurely pace of life in that quiet little town, and I’ll never forget her commenting one hot summer afternoon that “around here, we make our own fun.”
Words to live by, for sure — then and now.
We can all make our own fun, which I would argue is as much — or more — fulfilling than seeking it from external sources. If this idea is foreign to you, or you need inspiration, look no further than the nearest child.
Kids are masters at fun-making, so if you’re lucky enough to have some around, watch and learn. In my neighborhood, we’re fortunate to have a picturesque little creek surrounded by a paved oval perfect for walking and bike-riding. Kids of all ages gravitate to this spot, and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone in this idyllic setting who was not having a good time.
Fun begets fun, and who among us wouldn’t mind more of that kind of contagion? Watching those neighborhood kids inspired me to try to capture their exuberance in watercolor, an experience that I can only describe as highly pleasurable. As summer fades and we move into September, we might all do well to remember and cultivate our innate capacity for fun. After what we’ve been through these past few years, I think we deserve at least that. Don’t you?