Do I Have Enough Fun?

Illustration: Sari Cohen

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Do I Have Enough Fun?
Fun is necessary. It delivers oxygen to the soul. And yet it's paradoxical. You must have it, but straining to do so misses the point. Planning is the death of fun.

Which doesn't stop us from trying to arrange it, to coax it into being. (Our approach to weddings is a good example. We turn what could be a joyous party into a yearlong gauntlet of debt, drama and anxiety.) Because fun cannot, in my opinion, be created, what we end up arranging is not fun but distraction. Watching TV, gossiping with the work gaggle during happy hour and shopping are satisfying activities, but they're not fun.

When I was a kid, I loved to ride roller coasters—Disneyland's Matterhorn, Coney Island's rickety Cyclone. The slow ascent, the shivery pause at the top, the exhilarating drop: fun!

How do we recapture that? By living in the moment—by being ready. Fun isn't an activity; it's the result of our willingness to be open. Fun is about spontaneity. It finds us when it wants to, and our job is to be ready.

On my most recent birthday, my family and a handful of overnight guests gathered around my table. We listened to music, drank wine, ate Oreo ice cream cake ablaze with kiddie candles. My teenage daughter and I decided to swing dance. I sent her out to spin and reeled her back in like a yo-yo. She had been so grouchy all evening. She was annoyed whenever she had to look up from her phone—she was annoyed about basically everything. But even she managed to make the choice we all must make, which is to embrace fun. And when she did, we achieved lift-off, right there in the kitchen.

We must make room for joy whenever it decides to show its mischievous face. And we must do this consistently, indefinitely. Or to quote that master of fun, Dr. Seuss: "Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one."

—Thelma Adams, author of the novel Playdate