Fun, or something

So, my writing prompt has to do with…fun. What is fun for me, and what have I done lately that is fun. Oh, yippee.

I can be inordinately silly, and love to be laughing and silly with a group of people. I definitely feel more energized when I’m amongst a group of friends, and we are making each other laugh about even serious things. I get some of that from my mother, I think. She was always making herself and me laugh about all kinds of things, even when they were not supposed to be funny.

I hesitate to say that I enjoy “making” people laugh. Truly, I cannot make anybody do anything, or feel anything. But when I am being silly and poking fun at even serious things, some people find that humorous, and they laugh. I enjoy that.

Laughing is always fun for me, although sometimes I cannot do it. When I can’t laugh, that’s grounds for concern. I’ve only been unable to laugh on a few occasions, thank goodness, but those were the darkest of days. There was no light, no air, and I was hermetically sealed in a vacuum somewhere deep within the Twilight Zone.

Inside that vacuum is not a good place to be. It’s my estimation of existence, which is not equivalent to life. Existence is devoid of emotion, or any sensory call and response, and dearth of choice or motivation for voluntary activity. Existence would seem to be a dearth of choice, sentience, variation. Absence of connection to anything else, or to anything save immediate survival. The porch light is on, but there’s nobody home and we’re not sure what the purpose of the light might be.

Being an only child, without a lot of friends or other kids around, I suppose I learned toa muse myself with mostly cerebral interests. My mother slept a lot, owing to depression I suppose, but I remember she’d take me outside when I was little. There’s a piture I remember of me in a stroller, outside, and I’m leaning over the side of the contraption and looking at the wheels. My mother said that was my preferred focal point when she took me for a stroll, watching the wheels go round and round. She found that curious, and tried to urge me to look at the trees or the houses or something aside from the stroller, but I was always fixated on the mechanism. It was the mechanism of going. She talked about that for many years, because she thought it was just kind of weird. Oh, well.

There was a school fair once, when I was still a little tyke, and there was food and a ferris wheel on the school grounds, and games, and more food. The best part. My mother was doing something out there, and I had ride tickets, and wanted to ride the ferris wheel. I got in the line, and when it was my turn, I got into the car, and it took off. I was happy to see things from up high, and wasn’t thinking much about anything, but I remember I was enjoying the sensation that I imagined was like flying. All of a sudden, there was a commotion below, and I heard my mother’s voice and my name was called. She was down on the ground, screaming her head off.

My mother was mostly afraid of heights. She could never drive across bridges, which cut off large parts of a city below sea level. She was down beneath the Ferris wheel screaming because I was high up at the top of the arc, and projecting her fear onto me. She was demanding they stop the ride to bring me down, which made no sense because if the ride stopped I would be stuck at the highest point. And I wasn’t having a problem with that. I wasn’t afraid, but she was afraid.

The operators brought me down, and my mother was placated. I was a little confused, because I knew that I had not been afraid to be up there, but her fear caused me to question myself about whether I was actually afraid or maybe should have been. But down I was, on the ground, and there was no more screaming or panic, so that must be good. Right? That must be good. Right.

I have always liked a view from high up. Even all the way back then. My mother, as I said, was always afraid of heights. She was also leery of going too fast. I, on the other hand, enjoyed driving at high rates of speed, even when going over a high bridge. I don’t have a big issue with other folks’ phobias, although my mother made her phobia everyone else’s. She demanded to control how fast I drove because she was afraid of going too fast. That became the source of many a skirmish, if not full on combat.

So, it’s fun to be up high, and enjoy a scenic view. That’s one of the reasons I chose to move here to North Carolina. Once I had seen the Smoky Mountains on an impromtu camping trip many years ago, I was hooked. The mountains have long been a source of spiritual connection, resonance, fascination. When driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway or some state highway, with mountains on all sides, makes me feel embraced by nature. In the spring, snow melts at higher elevations and water rushes off the sides of the rocks at lower elevations – you can just fill a cup or thermos on the spot.

Other things I count as fun are playing music, with a few other people, running through familiar songs that everybody knows, having a “jam” session. Doing that is as much about the music as it is about the comradery with other musicians. I suppose it’s not unlike pickup basketball games at playgrounds, just playing for the hell of it. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from the solidarity of like minds, a gratification that has nothing to do with winning or losing. Just the art of the craft.

Yesterday, as I was contemplating fun, the writing prompt urged me to look up fun things to do nearby, so I did. I found walking things…at places I have never visited. I plan to visit at least one of the places I found later today or tomorrow. One of them is a walking trail around a lake within city limits, and I investigated how to get there. It’s a long trail, about 7-8 miles, so I am a little concerned about making it that far, but nobody said I had to make the whole loop. Sometimes I confuse fun with accomplishment, or success of some kind.

I wound up taking the dog out earlier, and walked for a about 2-1/2 miles. The weather was nice. I enjoyed it. It was an easy time, and I felt good for having done it, and yes, I felt as though I had succeeded. I’m wondering if that fills the bill of fun. I enjoyed it for sure, but didn’t have that rush of feel-good joy that I get from things like group outings, or riding the ferris wheel. Maybe the key to what is fun is enjoyment with a group, or at least someone else? I don’t know, but the dog seemed happy about the walk.

There aren’t very many things that I look forward to at this point. I have some pleasure at the regular Zoom chats, 12-step meetings, webinars. I feel a certain sense of satisfaction after doing things like that, so maybe I’m on to something about feeling more a sense of fun when I am engaged in group activity. I do a lot of things by myself. A lot. It rarely occurs to me to call someone else to come along, not because I don’t have anyone that I could invite, but because it just doesn’t occur to me. Only child kind of thing, I guess.

When I was a drinking woman, I hung at the bars. I am not a dancer, so it wasn’t about wanting to hear good dancing music. I still went there alone, sometimes ran into people I knew, old friends, new friends (after a few drinks, just about everybody is a friend). I enjoyed watching people watching people. I was a spectator, and I suppose that is all that I felt I could be.

It seems that I am always a spectator, even when I’m in the middle of things. Always on the outside of the arena, always detached and standing apart in some way. I don’t quite know why that is, but seems like it’s been that way for a long time. I suppose I’ve always had a bit of social anxiety, and drinking was a quick way to apply some social grease so the square peg could fit easily into the round hole. Fitting in was never comfortable, though, and I never felt as though it was where I was supposed to be.

I will need to give a bit more thought to having fun, and what I consider fun. I suppose in my somewhat austere outlook that includes obligation and practicality, fun is a gratuitous exercise that arouses maximum enjoyment. Maximum enjoyment for no other purpose but…to enjoy. Not to achieve mastery, or accomplish a goal, or complete a task. Simply to experience the pleasure of something that brings joy. I’ll get right on that.

Believe it or not, right this moment, I have a live video stream playing while I’m writing this. The stream is coming from Iceland, and captures an active volcanic eruption. The eruption began over over a month ago, and it’s still quite a healthy expulsion of red-hot molten lava, propelled high into the air and then back again, pooling and flowing down the mountain side and into the nearby valleys. I enjoy watching it, for some odd reason. It’s nearly incomprehensible to me that temperatures that hot can exist, and pressure so great can be expelled to hurl huge amounts of molten rock into the air. And for such a long interval of time. That is amazing to me. I’m not quite sure if watching that fits the definition of fun, but watching it is bringing me joy.

Possibly unrelated to any of this contemplation of fun, pleasure, joy…or maybe at the heart of it…I was re-watching “28 Days” with Sandra Bullock earlier. I like that movie. It’s the story of a party girl, who really doesn’t have much of a care in the world, who drinks too much and winds up ruining her sister’s wedding, crashing a limousine into a house, and being sentenced to a rehab center in order to avoid jail. She finds out a lot about herself while in rehab, in spite of herself, and that’s common of recovery journeys (whether in rehab or not).

I’ve seen that movie at least a half-dozen times, but for some reason, I always have emotion around her reunion with her sister. After her rehab roommate overdoses, Sandra Bullock’s character undergoes some deep transformation, and she realizes everything is not about maximum enjoyment. She and her sister come to a place where they finally see each other as doing the best they can, and sharing common history of being raised by an alcoholic mother. I was most emotional when Sandra Bullock says, “I’m sorry I’ve amde it so impossible for you to love me.” Her sister responds, tearfully, “You make it impossible for me NOT to love you.”

I suppose that is where I want to get with someone, somewhere, that it’s impossible for them to not love me, that it’s impossible for me to screw up too much to forsake the love. I have to believe that’s still possible, but feel like such a fool continuing to believe it. I always look for it, always hopeful, always sure there’s still a prize in the Cracker Jack box even after it’s been opened by others and half the treat is gone. Always still believing. I can’t seem to kill it, and sometimes I really want to. What’s love got to do with it, anyhow…what’s love but a second hand emotion…who needs a heart when a heart can be broken? Anybody? Anybody???

Sometimes I’m on fire.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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