I keep thinking about a conversation I had with my friend Kathy. We’ve been friends, metaphorically speaking, since Jefferson was President. There isn’t much we don’t know about each other. Every few weeks we get on the phone and catch up about our kids, her mother (the only survivor among our parents), our work and our lives. During our last call, after proudly listing all the things I am involved with, Kathy said, “But what about fun and joy?”
Ten years ago this question would have stumped me. I believed then in “work/life balance” and other binary viewpoints which supposed that the two things were separate and even mutually exclusive. Work apparently was where you performed and earned money. Life apparently was where you experienced joys and freedoms.
I no longer think that way. Of course, I have the luxury of being self-employed. The way my life is constructed now, work and play are integrated into one other. The proportions change, but I ensure that both make an appearance every day. It’s come to the point that I frequently don’t know what day it is because it doesn’t matter. Kids’ school vacations and weekends and work/life balance and vacations aren’t relevant to me anymore.
So, back to Kathy’s question, “What about fun and joy?” She’s still in a job that isn’t a great fit for her, looks forward to weekends and freedom, is responsible for her very difficult/out of control/elderly mother, and, consequently, worries about her own aging. Integrating fun and joy for her is much more of a struggle than it is for me. I think that’s true for most people, too.
Not that I’m perfect at that integration myself. It’s still alarmingly easy for me to worry about what might be as opposed to find the joy that’s in front of me in any given moment. The best I can do is live up to the haiku master Matsuo Bashō’s poem:
I am one
Who eats his breakfast,
Gazing at the morning-glories
So, let me ask you: Where are your fun and joy coming from?
What have you created that allows (and even requires) fun and joy to be integrated into your days rather than stopping or finishing what you are doing to look for them? Please leave your answers in Comments.