Sitting in my therapists office I realized suddenly that I forgotten how to play. I know how to fill a weekend, but I don’t know how to have fun. When I have time off, I get caught up in productive things like paying bills, and cleaning my house (ok, who am I kidding that rarely happens), and cooking. When asked to name “fun” things I say I read, or go for a walk. But deep down I realize none of these things are thrilling. They aren’t FUN. Like capital F-U-N. The emotional reality of this hit me like a ton of bricks. I know it resonated with me, because I started bawling, and was still bawling as I clutched at my steering wheel on the way home.
What happened? I used to play as a child, building RVs for my stuffed animals to call home, and stitching leather jackets so they could join a Hell’s Angels-esqe motorcycle gang, and dreaming up elaborate stories. In college I hosted tea parties, and held a midnight picnic in the sculpture garden that was quickly broken up not by the cops but the nocturnal emergence of (eekk) cockroaches!!!
Yet while I had dreams when I was younger (of making movies, writing a screen play, doing stand up comedy) lately it seem I know what to do with myself. I can’t tell you what a fun weekend would look like. I don’t have a favorite movie, or a favorite artist, or a favorite book. I feel like I have become a nobody. If I was told I was dying and had eight hours left on earth,
I don’t know how I would spend them . Scratch that.
I have been a highly successful person, but I haven’t been a particularly creative one. I have spent the last seven years desperately trying to be an adult in the face of the worst economic disaster in almost a century. Once I decided after college not to go abroad and teach English and be an international nomad, at every juncture I’ve done the most responsible thing: avoided debt, saved money, gone back to school, built my resume, and leveraged it into a pretty respectable life for myself. From the outside, I look highly successful. I’m happily married, have a good job, we just bought a house. Yet I haven’t been successful at being happy. I hardly recognize the stressed out person I see in the mirror. She doesn’t have many friends, she doesn’t feel passion for life, and she is short tempered, negative, and way too uptight. And today when I looked deep inside I realized I don’t want to live this life any more.
So I’ve decided to start playing. I’m going to focus on finding the things that speak to me, make me lose track of time, and feel joy. The things I feel compelled to do and energized by. I’m not going to throw my whole life overboard. I have a bunch of good things going for me. But I do plan on tweaking where I am, and what I am doing, and use it to reevaluate where I am going.
And that sounds like a lot of work. So first I am going to focus on having fun. And getting my play on.