When Liadan Hynes’ marriage fell apart she had to work on adjusting to the new reality. In her weekly column, Things Fall Apart she explores the myriad ways a person can find their way back to themselves…
When you are in the midst of a crisis, fun is one of the first things to go. There might be humour, of the gallows kind; but mostly, you are too tired, too sad, too heavy in your spirit to be able for fun. Because fun is light; it is buoyant; it is carefree, and you are none of these things.
An absence of fun, come to think of it, could be a good flare in the dark that things are not right. An indicator.
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And then things fall apart, and that is not fun. Although that is when you need the people with gallows humour, who know that it is okay (in fact, it is necessary), to still laugh even when things are at their worst.
Grief-fest 2017, a friend tells me of the title she and her friends gave to the year they all lost a parent.
The right people
But eventually, that passes And you realise you are ready for fun again. It creeps back in, in the fact that you want to go out, or have people in, again. To widen your life, open things up.
In the fact that it is no longer a case of simply getting the things that must be done done. There is now room for more than just basics.
There are people who are particularly good at fun; naturals at it. Essential-to-have-in-your-life people.
Katie Treadway via Unsplash
My Work Wife and her cousin (my original first-job-out-of-college Work Wife), are such people. Tell them an anecdote and it is funnier than when you tell anyone else. People with an ever-ready-to-appear crinkling at the eyes, with whom you laugh all the time.
Like a rising tide, they elevate all around them; find the fun where others might not. Life in their presence seems more sparkly. More vivid. Fun.
You need these people to remind yourself to let go of the, at times, vice-like grip you may be unconsciously holding onto life with.
Because when everything has fallen apart, it can be difficult to be chill. They remind you that it is okay to change pace. That the difficult time has passed.
There is room for other things; for silliness, messing, kicking back. Because life now is not all about coping, hanging on, hanging in.
My daughter is another such person. ‘You are my fun Bobby,’ I would tell her when she was very little (her nickname as a baby –Baba – somehow became Bobby), until I realised the unfortunate Friends connotation.
Related: Three easy ways to find joy in everyday life
She is a natural at fun; even as a toddler; blessed with an ability to make even the simplest things more fun. Lend a sense of occasion to simply going to our local Starbucks for coffee, to the park for scones.
Now I see it in her sense of humour, her ability to bring us to real tears of laughter when she makes a joke. And her relishment of life, of a day out, a holiday to plan, of just painting our nails. A child brings life down to its simplest, and fun should be part of that. Part of the most basic things that make up your life.
The karaoke machine
I decide that we will get a karaoke machine for the house, a Christmas gift to myself and Herself.
We are karaoke queens, the Work Wife and I; people who live life in a state of readiness – prepared to snatch up a mic at the merest suggestion of an opportunity. She has, on occasion, sent me WhatsApp messages of herself singing karaoke, on her own. We are hardcore.
Herself, my four-year-old’s, understanding of karaoke is unclear, but she definitely knows there is a lot of shout-singing going on, so she is on board. We talk about it for weeks in advance; there is huge palaver over the buying of the right machine, the songs we will sing.
SeaReeds via Pixabay
And at first, it goes well; the high of holding a mic gets us all. Two things quickly become clear though. A) an ability to read is fundamental to karaoke, and B) one of us is, therefore, enjoying this far more than the other.
Herself comes out of the kitchen to the sight of her father patiently suffering through her mother’s particularly enthusiastic rendition of Livin on a Prayer, and bursts into tears.
That night at bedtime, she quietly whispers apologetically, “Mommy, I don’t think I like karaoke”, and I realise I have become a karaoke version of a pushy soccer mom. The opposite of fun.
The karaoke machine is abandoned, but the fun is not. And the Work Wife and I form a karaoke club, and move our haranguing to adults only.
Top photo: Colin via Unsplash
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