November 20, 2012

Cycling the Landscape of Home: Fun

Grateful for sunny blue skies and temperatures rising to the low 40s, I was back outside on the bike yesterday. Thinking, as I rode, of a recent conversation I had with a friend while we waited in his shop for a bit of work to be done on my car.

Wind vane in town park


We got to talking about fun. Why, he wondered, do we have so much less fun now than we used to, as children. What happened? I suspect this is generally true as people get older, but perhaps the phenomena shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. Just what was it that made activities fun, as kids? Where did that go? What do we remember as fun, and why? What do we miss about it? What is this thing we call fun?



Did we lose fun hand-in-hand with gaining a growing sense of responsibility ... and with growing responsibilities did a certain amount of fear and then caution come alongside? Is it that to have fun now might require taking risks that just seem toooooo ... risky? Given our culture's Puritan historical basis, do we deeply believe that everything adults do needs have purpose, meaning, goal, usefulness? Does the realm of fun belong to children in this culture? Ought it?



Town park gazebo, and  path
I thought I'd look for some quotes from history to prop up this little post. I found some from Cicero, and other ancient writers. Clearly fun, in a broad sense, has been a philosophical inquiry since the ancient Greeks. But almost immediately I get a quick quick quick sense that fun is slippery, evasive, fleeting.....and as I read, and think, try to get a definition, something quantifiable, explicable, repeatable, something more to write about fun, fun itself is ... elsewhere.


For me, fun is riding my bike. Put like that, it's not so different than what I thought of as fun when a kid. Hop on my bike and pedal around the corner, across the street, into the woods. Learn a new place. Ride as fast as I can. Ride up a hill just to go back down...and don't forget, look look no hands! Wheeeeeee. Though across the street is further now, it feels no braver than it did as a 10-year-old. Let's go.


Oh yes, and Thanksgiving is immediately upon us. Among other things I'll give thanks for fun, and cycling.

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