Wow, a month since my last blog – top effort.
Anyway, I want to talk about fun. Some people have lots of it. Most of us don’t have enough. And rather a lot can’t even remember what it is anymore.
Towards the end of my time in London I was drifting towards the latter, sadly. I enjoyed impossibly large amounts of THE FUN back when I was a student, but then I graduated and decided it was time to become a serious dude. The world needed changing, and there was not a minute to waste. It pretty much went in one direction from there.
I barely made time for enjoying life, because I was so occupied with doing serious super-important shit (at least I thought it was). When I wasn’t working at the college (my day job), I was freelancing, I was mentoring, trying to establish myself as a writer, working on setting up a youth coaching programme and a social enterprise think tank AT THE SAME TIME (what an idiot), and my ‘downtime’ in the evenings or on the tube was spent reading books on climate change, psychology and finance. They weren’t exactly a laugh a minute. Nobody pointed out that reading about where debt comes from is a totally unacceptable way to ‘wind down’. Actually they probably did, but I totally knew what I was doing.
OK, I exaggerate a little. I was part of a cycling club, I spent a good deal of time with friends and loved getting out and about in London’s parks. I’ve come to realise however that having fun isn’t just about what activity you’re doing, but your state of mind. Even when I was out on a Friday night with friends I couldn’t let myself go and simply enjoy the moment, rather I was off in the future somewhere. I felt so burdened by responsibilities and expectations (largely self-inflicted). And I think I was just worn out from several years of building my life around trying to give out to others whilst neglecting myself. The small irony in all of this is that I probably became more tiresome to be around and less of a positive influence on others.
Now that you know the above, it hopefully will sound less absurd when I say that having M.E. has helped me to have fun again, and it’s also shown me how much it matters. One of the most surprising feelings I had during the first six months of M.E. was bliss and freedom. Relief. I simply wasn’t physically able to do all those things I had been trying to do, and it lifted a weight off my shoulders which had grown freakishly large. Now that I was unwell, if all I felt like doing that day was watching the Tour de France (sorry, LE Tour de France) then that was A-OK. No guilt. It’s been years since I would have given myself permission to do that.
There have been other things which have reinforced that fun is just great stuff to have in my life again. The road to recovery for M.E. is best measured in years, and I was quite aware of this from the start. You need to keep your spirits up, laugh and be as light-hearted as possible, as it can be bloody awful to live with. I’ve learned to stay more present, to appreciate things and not surprisingly that’s allowed me to enjoy things more. After several years of city-hopping and a reasonable amount of success in work, it would take a significant event to give me much of a rush. Now I get the same high each time I see friends or family, or meet someone new.
As my energy has come back, more serious stuff has crept back into my life. To some extent this is inevitable; most of us would choose to have at least some responsibilities. If you take living a carefree life to its extreme, you potentially have a life marked by recklessness and irresponsibility. Nonetheless, I have no intention of becoming overwhelmed by it in the same way I did before. I value the spontaneity and light heartedness I have now. There’s a place for seriousness for sure, but sometimes you’ve just got to just sit around and chat shit. Or check out some lolcats.
I don’t believe that life’s troubles necessarily need to lead to us becoming colder, but rather they can actually make us lighter. They can teach us that we’re never truly in control, that we should learn to be carried where life takes us, and that life is so very short, so we may as well appreciate it. Fear and pressure prevent many of us from trusting ourselves, being bold and laughing freely. It doesn’t have to be like that. It’s not so much that life is stopping you from having fun, but rather you’re stopping yourself from having fun. We build up this elaborate cages around our minds and then chuck away the key. Clever.
And contrary to the title, it really ain’t much fun when you’re always on the run…
Thanks for reading. Anyone realise which song the blog title was taken from…? Less obvious than the previous one.