“This is fun for us”. We’re in the ski lodge having lunch and I’m showing my 7 year-old nephew a photo of his mother cross-country skiing up a hill. He’s just come off a morning of downhill ski lessons and is getting ready to go back out to ski with his cousins. He looks at the photo and then at me and silently absorbs this information before returning to his sandwich. I can imagine his silent monologue: “If being an adult means skiing uphills instead of downhills is fun, I’m NEVER becoming an adult!”
But it’s true. I have way more fun propelling myself along silent winding snowy tree-lined paths while sweating and breathing hard than gliding down a hill with zero effort in about 60 seconds and then freezing my butt off while waiting in line to be lifted up to do it again. There was a time when the reverse was true though. What happened? Am I becoming actually no fun? Am I … old and crotchety? Or can I still have fun but in a different way? I need to examine this and whether or not I still have fun.
I used to think Beer Miles were fun. Now I think they’re my definition of Hell. (And no, this is not because I’m no longer the reigning champ). It’s because they actually hurt in every way possible and …. I don’t know … they’re just not fun for me. Why did I ever think they were? Will my kids and nieces and nephews one day find this kind of thing fun??? God help me.
I run a lot, but do I run for fun? I wouldn’t say so. Most of the average runs I go on are not necessarily fun. Races can be fun – in fact when I think back on most of my race experiences I would classify them as fun. This is usually because I go with people who I enjoy sharing experiences with, and that is a big part of fun for me. If you stopped me ¾ of a way through any race and asked me if I was having fun in that moment, I’m sure I would punch you in the face. But ask me after and I will say it was fun and I will probably want to share a beer with you – especially if you just raced it too. This is a new sense of fun. In my 20’s and earlier I don’t think I ever thought races were fun. They were stressful, and opportunities to be judged and graded. I don’t see them that way anymore as I don’t attach any personal worth to my results, so they have become fun.
Fun for me now is new experiences, but usually with a component that challenges me. I would classify almost any outdoor adventure as fun (as long as I’m not cold). And pretty much anything done with friends is fun. If you asked me if I enjoy shopping, going out to dive bars and getting stuck in airports I’d probably say no, but I just got back from doing all of that with friends and had the time of my life.
So maybe having fun is just a mindset. I’ll try to remind myself of that fact as I set out on my first cross-country ski race in over 20 years. As I use every muscle in my body to coordinate with poles and skis to force myself to the top of a hill as fast as I can in the middle of a 27km course, I’ll tell myself “This is FUN dammit!” Hope I convince myself.
Post Script: It worked: the cross-country race was SUPER FUN!!!