“The fun part doesn’t come later, now is the fun part” – Gretchen Rubin.
I had to write about this. I couldn’t not. I’ve written about it before. I’m betting I’ll write about it again. I need this reminder all the time. Every day. I don’t ever stop needing it. Because it’s a challenging, but ridiculously important statement. It really is. That now is where it’s at. This moment. This tiny segment of your day. Not when the day ends and you (I) can sink into the sofa with a remote control in hand. Not when the long awaited summer holiday comes, and you (I) will have the sun, and the time and the beach I crave in this most miserable-weathered of Februarys.
Now. Right now. As unfinished, messy, unprepared and undeniably imperfect that may be. As this post absolutely is.
When life was harder, and the kids were smaller, and work was a struggle and failing to float my boat, and I had started to fantasise about my retirement in some 30 years time, I would have found this statement even more challenging than I do today. I believe that at that point in my life I may have laughed maniacally at anyone who suggested that the fun was now. Which is either sad beyond measure, or simply shows a couple of things – that it was time to make some changes to my lifestyle (which as it turns out, it was) but on a much smaller scale that it was also time to change the way I looked for the good in the moment. Because what I had forgotten, or perhaps didn’t know then, is that even in pretty darn challenging circumstances there are always teeny, tiny pockets of joy to be found, and enjoyed. Even if it’s nothing more than the soft warmth of your sweatshirt on your arms, or a brief moment of silence in an otherwise crazy day.
Acknowledging that now is the fun part means slipping a new lens over the way I look at life moment to moment. So that even when it all feels a bit hideous (like it did midway through a 3 hour drive with my kids this afternoon) there’s something, however teensy and innocuous, that can bring you feelings of joy and comfort in that moment – like the sky above the car of doom and bedlam that I was travelling in, which was having a particularly beautiful moment just as the kids kicked off. The sky was about the only thing that could possibly have given me a sense of peace in that moment. And so I focussed on that beautiful sky – I focussed on it for dear life. Which is when my soul heaved itself out of wherever it went to hide when the ratty children in the back of the car started on each other. When I could feel a little ember of hope start to ignite somewhere deep in my belly. When I got back to a place when I could start to see again that now is indeed the fun part. Not the bit when we get home and I get to escape the metal box of irritability. But now. In no way did this perspective prevent the shit from hitting the fan, or the 6 year old from hitting the 8 year old. But it did, and it does, give me a powerful way of finding some light in an otherwise rather dark place.
To me, it’s something so very different from thinking positive thoughts when life feels tough. When the boys are losing it with each other behind me, and I have lost the will to twist myself round in the passenger seat to try and weakly and wearily intervene, positive thoughts are of little use to me. In many ways this approach is easier. This is all about the feeling and much less the thinking, which is counter intuitive for my busy brain, but actually far simpler, more peaceful and relaxing. It takes little more than a quick scan of myself, my body and my surroundings to find the thing that soothes me, that I need to lean, sink or collapse into so I can bathe myself in its ointment, and remind myself that even if it doesn’t look anything like it at a first glance, now is indeed the fun part.
And if I do manage to remember this truth (and turn away from the oh so alluring temptation to raise my voice to match their volume) then what happened today, and what so often happens, is that while I’m off in my merry reverie, seeking and soaking up the fun part of now, the kids’ nonsense peaks, resolves and is forgotten. The shouts turn into giggles. The drive continues. And I am convinced all over again – the fun part is now.