“Deborah, what do you do for fun?” she asked me, breaking me off mid-sentence.
I thought hard for a moment. I honestly could not think of anything. There once was a time when my life was filled with singing and choirs, scripts for plays and notes in musicals, and beautiful words bursting from wonderful novels.
However, now I was at university and I was on target for high grades and a promising future. The days of singing and reading for fun were long gone.
“Well…I talk about feminism and politics,” I said suddenly, glad to demonstrate that I was well-rounded and not just an academic hermit. I enthusiastically described a few of the university groups that I belonged to and how awesome the causes were.
The lady smiled yet shook her head. “All of those things are brilliant and honourable, but I’m not sure they make you happy.” I went to protest but she held up her hand. “Fighting against the world and for the world isn’t about pleasure for you.”
She was right. The lady had spoken to me for a mere hour, yet she was right on the money: I did not nothing just for fun. For nothing but pleasure. Every activity and every ounce of my time was spent working towards some far-off future goal of “success” that I wasn’t even sure that I wanted. And whilst I loved my university groups, they were also entangled with my political resentments and aspirations.
The sensation that crept up on me in that moment wasn’t sadness. It took me a moment to place it, but when I finally did, I realised that it was embarrassment.
My world was a very serious, dry place filled with political debate and unbridled anger towards the far-off Powers That Be.
Whilst I did begin to fill my life up with fun over the next few years with dance classes and a Saturday Night Social Life, it wasn’t until I went travelling that I truly grasped the concept of doing something for nothing but fun. For nothing but unadulterated pleasure. Travelling also taught me that there was fun in the form of escapism and fun in the form of enhancing your well being.
These days when I am more than a bit down, I have to ask myself: “Debs, what are you doing for nothing but fun? For nothing more than pleasure?” If I can’t answer it within two seconds and/or if the best I can come up with is, “Well, I get pissed on the weekends, I watch four hours of YouTube a day and I buy myself that shower gel I like,” I know that I am not cutting the mustard.
What I do for nothing but pleasure needs to be about my well being – something that leads to contentment – and that is not about escapism. For me, pleasure includes listening to live music, going for long walks in the countryside, sitting by myself in a park somewhere writing in my journal with a beer in my hand, taking myself out for dinner and a movie…
These are activities that are not only fun, but they fill me with a sense of contentment and joy that I don’t find elsewhere.
I will be honest, since coming to Australia I have not really been doing any of these things. People think that travelling and working at the same time is nothing but the joy; that it’s all sunshine, tans and meeting crazy new people. Excitement in the everyday. However, when you arrive in a city with no job and no money and no home, it’s not always a blissful carefree time. It can be pretty stressful and the constant fears about money mean that even when you do go out and meet people, you are usually spending 90% of the time fretting that you should be looking for a job (not drinking beer) and that you should be sat indoors holding the purse strings tight (not spending money on said beer.)
For me, this is something that I actually find difficult admitting to people. I never want people to think that I am not grateful for what I have so I put on a brave face. However, today was one of those days when I had to look in the mirror and say, “Debs, what do you do lately that’s for fun? What do you do that is for nothing but pleasure and your well being?”
A blank expression answered me.
I need to change that.
This post is part of Alex Beadon’s Feel Good Blogging Challenge. Today’s theme is about posting something that makes you feel vulnerable. Travel blogs can have a tendency to portray the travel lifestyle as being nothing but amazing sights combined with wonderful people. However, there are times when my life slows and I have to earn money, and my life is about just getting through the day-to-day grind of work and paying bills.
This isn’t something that I always feel comfortable talking about, but I hope that you can relate and that maybe my honesty helps you in some way or another!
PS: Have you read the rest of my Feel Good Blogging Challenge entries? Make sure to read the comments and join the conversation!