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Unconventional Perspectives on Fun and Happiness
Do you prefer Saturdays over Wednesdays?
“The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.” - Ivy Ross
Are you one of those people that just feels lighter and lighter the closer you get to the weekend?
I am. Even after years of setting my own schedule. Even after months of creating a childcare schedule with my partner in which we alternate days of “owning” his childcare (an arrangement I loooooove).
Friday just feels different.
In fact, every day has a certain energy to it. So does every month. I am just a different person in September or on a Sunday, than I am in June or on a Thursday.
Not only does he not usually know what day of the week it is, sometimes he can’t even tell you what month it is. Once he asked me what month it was, and I demanded he guess.
Him, after giving it a moment of serious thought: “April?”
Me: “Are you f-ing kidding me?”
It was June.
He’s the type of person that can go half a day fully believing it’s a Tuesday on a Saturday.
If I thought it was Tuesday and suddenly realized it was Saturday, I would be overjoyed.
He doesn’t skip a beat though. It doesn’t influence how he goes about his day at all (only to the extent that his day might be influenced by how I want to go about my day).
It’s fascinating to me.
I see the same sort of orientation (or lack thereof) to seasons and weather. He spent the first two decades of his life in the Caribbean, but he is absolutely, without exception, utterly indifferent to the seasons and weather.
He’s the only person I’ve ever met who thinks he wouldn’t mind the relentlessly brutal winters of Winnipeg, where I grew up. And I actually believe him.
Contrary to the image you may be forming of him, he’s not spacey or flakey. He’s resourceful, not to mention incredibly observant and engaged with life. He is punctual. He remembers things he has to do without needing reminders.
Last weekend, we were already in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We biked through Williamsburg to get there. We’ve been there many times before. And then, before going home, he asked me if we were in Redhook.
Now, for those of you not oriented to New York, these two neighbourhoods have completely different vibes, and are in completely opposite directions from our home in Fort Greene.
If I ever was so disoriented, I would suggest you immediately take me to a hospital. But this happens all. the. time. for him. And it doesn’t irritate or concern him in the slightest.
For years, I just filed tidbits like this away in his ever-expanding inventory of quirks. But recently I realized there was something profound about his ability to lose all sense of time and place.
It doesn’t matter what the date or location is, his approach to the day is constant. His capacity for joy is the exact same whether it’s a stormy Tuesday or a sunny Saturday.
He cannot wrap his head around why I would change how I’m going about my day on a Saturday vs a Monday. On Mondays, I have internalized that I should be working, but on Saturday, anything goes. Saturdays are fun. Mondays are chores.
Me: “I just feel like I have more permission to have fun on a Saturday, even if I’m not working on a Monday.”
Him: “Permission from whom!? You are an adult! Why wait to have fun?”
Why wait to have fun indeed. I’ve already written about how we’ve (erroneously) internalized that fun is something that comes after. But I think it’s even more profound than that. There’s a kind of joy in getting lost the way he does.
Somehow, my study of fun has morphed into a character study of my partner. Poor guy, these days I’ll stop him mid-sentence so I can capture the random bits of wisdom that he shares, sure that the world needs to hear his insights.
“I have an expectation that everything will be ok, and I’m living in that world. What looks like fun is really a type of confidence.”
Why expend valuable mental energy staying oriented if you believe, deep down, with full confidence, that everything will be ok?
If you ask him, a wintry Wednesday in Winnipeg holds the exact same potential as a sunny Saturday in Spain.
When my baby was 8 weeks old, we took him on a staycation to a fancy hotel in Brooklyn. We had both been on leave from work for two months at this point. We were equally sleep deprived, and equally removed from our inboxes.
The hotel was a 20 minute walk from our apartment, but I felt a world away. Going out for lunch the next day, at a place we could have walked to any other day, I couldn’t believe how free I felt, even with a fussy baby in my arms.
I wrote down what transpired next because I was so blown away by it:
Me: “Isn’t it crazy how this really feels like vacation?”
Him, smiling: “Ya, welcome to my normal life.”
Me: “You feel this way every day?”
Him: “Ya this is my normal day. Every day feels like vacation, ever since I started my first job.”
I think I’m so interested in this question of what fun really is and how to have more of it because every day I witness how my partner’s counterintuitive and countercultural approach to life yields so much more joy and fulfillment than any traditional prescription for a happy life could.
Back at the hotel, he spent the entire evening photoshopping this picture:
Why? Why not. You could argue it was a complete waste of time, when we were spending an arm and a leg just for the privilege of sleeping 20 minutes from home. But it made him laugh and it made me laugh. It still does, and now maybe it has made you laugh too.
He recently told me he is the happiest man alive. That’s not to say he’s constantly cheerful and bubbly (in fact, his default state is quite serious), or that he’s not still striving for more (he is ambitious and hard working). But his default state is playful and content. As I shared recently, he just never stopped having fun.
He helps me remember that my true nature is to have fun too.
Seeing him have fun, no matter the day or context, helps me see how I can too. It disrupts my expectations and gives me courage.
I think we naturally want to follow people who are having fun, and the only reason we as a society are looking up to the people we do (founders, celebrities, influencers…) is because we assume they, whether through their wealth or access or fame, are having fun. Whether or not they actually are.
I believe most probably aren’t having nearly as much fun as my partner, with no fame or wealth, is.
The problem is you don’t hear about people like him, because people like him aren’t chasing the types of things that will get him attention. I think we might live a little differently if we had more examples. Seeing is believing. There are other ways of being in this world that can help us have more fun.
(In other words, this probably isn’t the last you’ll hear from me about this topic or character 😉)