“I was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood…
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.”-“Birches” by Robert Frost-
To the incomparable Ms. Tina Turner—don’t be mad, lady, but I hijacked your question. It’s for a good reason—Scout’s honor.
Today, after returning to the classroom from my four day literal potty party called a stomach virus, I dragged my weary soul to my car to commence the circular responsibility of Mom Taxi to my littlest offspring, and thought to myself: You’ve got five minutes—no time like the present (wrong!!)—this would be a great time to catch up with my Mom, since I’ve been feeling like roadkill lately and she’s probably wondering what’s up with me.
T-minus three minutes of instant replay convo and I broke down to my mother, crying in my Cheerios, just like I did when I was a little childling and something didn’t go my way. This overwhelming sense of despair washed over me, and the words tumbled out, leaving me unable to copy edit them in my brain and offer the more robotic “it’s fine…I’m fine” pat response that has begun to taste like cardboard on my tongue.
I admitted to her that nothing was fun anymore and that I’d had it with myself.
I felt bone dry inside.
I was morphing into Debby Downer’s snarly cousin Bitchy Brenda. You know, the bedraggled, bags-under-the-eyes, proverbial cigarette dangling from lower lip, shaky and skittish harpy who’d freaking had enough. “That girl.” Or thing. I dunno which works better.
I immediately hated myself for saying it, but even more so, I hated to admit the raw honesty of it.
Please don’t let these statements fool you—I do get to have fun. Sometimes. Scheduled fun—very little spontaneity. I know how to spot it, harvest it, and keep it in a jar for rainy days, but lately, in particular areas of my sunups to sundowns, my honey pots of joy have droplets and no more. I know that it’s not the universe’s job to bring me this—that’s it’s what I bring to it, and that’s where I have been stumbling lately, relying on my emotional (and, well, it feels a bit like a real) apocalypse rations to sustain me.
I was watching “Two Week’s Notice” from my sickbed sometime over this haze of illness, and this monologue of utter exasperation slapped me silly with their direct correlation to my agitation:
“I have an ulcer. I don’t sleep well, mostly because you keep calling me in the middle of the night, and if you dont call me I dream that you’re gonna call me. I think about you in the shower…in an I’m-so-distracted-I-can’t-remember-if-I-washed-my-hair kinda way – so I’ll wash my hair twice! So I have a hole in my stomach, I’m running out of shampoo and today is the first day in my life that I did not give a thousand percent on the job. And I hate that feeling.”
Morning after morning feels like a sequence of “Groundhog Day,” where I lather, rinse, and repeat the same catastrophe, but in a new sequence, and with more jagged corners added to the maze each time. While the King of the Goblins may approve of this labyrinth, I do not.
So, here’s where I loop back to the question I word-swapped in the title: What’s fun got to do with it?
Now, don’t come at me with your old crusty speech about: “not all things we do are fun,” because I’ll serve that pile of dung right back to you.
Whatever life is, it ought to begin by being fun. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of Mondays strung together.
I could spout the “you only life once” bumper sticker talk, and take your suggestions about skydiving or ballroom dancing lessons, or I could just get right to it and tell you that the only way I talked myself out of this invisible box and plugged up the dam of my tears was to tell my Mom (and, duh—myself, really) this:
I need to redirect my focus and find the fun again.
Even if it was the size of a postage stamp.
Even if it lasted no longer than the flick of a switch.
Even if the darkness sometimes threatened to sneak in through the keyhole.
Find the light.
In Italian, “dare alla luce” means “to give to the light.”
So that’s what I’m going to do: give my doldrums over to the light.
On the menu tonight: bedtime shenanigans with my daughter. Saving grace. 45 minutes of pure hooliganism, a kiss on her forehead, a thank you, and off to Sleepyville (for her—I’m literally up past my own pumpkin time).
Tomorrow: yet to be determined, but I’m on the lookout for it.
What’s fun got to do with it?