This summer, I’ll be going to Croatia and Italy for a choir trip. I’m so excited- I’ve never been to either place, and both seem so classically Mediterranean and beautiful. Having things to look forward to definitely plays a huge role in my happiness!
Today is my birthday! While I’m not big on huge retrospectives, I do appreciate knowing how far I’ve come and where I’ve been. To that end, today I’ll be thinking about where I traveled this year and how that relates to my current happiness.
First, I went to Costa Rica last April with my Dad to celebrate my college graduation. We were there right at the end of teh dry season, so the lush greenery so often found in pictures of Costa Rica was not in evidence. Instead, it was dry, brown and smoky as the fires clearing the sugar cane fields burned and the volcano across the bay smoked constantly. At night we could see the glowing molten lava. It was a powerful image, and a powerful reminder of just how insignificant much of man’s building powers are. One eruption and all those building would be gone. We went hiking and ziplining and bird watching, all in the 90+ degree heat. I loved every minute of it.
The other major trip I went on this year was fairly well the opposite of that. I went to Berlin Germany in January to visit my boyfriend, who was there over his Christmas break. It was greay, snowy and cold. In the 20s cold, with dampness and wind and no sunlight whatsoever. All the same, it was fun. I went ot some great museums and saw some amazing pieces of art. So much of what was dug up by Europneans in the 1800 and 1900 hundreds was brought back to Europe before thereg what could and couldn’t be removed from its country of origin. I saw the Ishtar Gate from Ancient Babylon, the Pergamum Altar from Turkey and the Painted Bust of Nefertiti from Egypt. I also ate so much cheese and sausage and drank about a gallon of Gluhwein.
Active and Passive are, by definition, opposites. Merriam Webster online defines Active as “…Characterized by action rather than by contemplation or speculation…quick in physical movement, lively…marked by vigorous activity…requiring vigorous action or exertion…” and Passive as “…existing or occurring without being active, open, or direct…lacking in energy or will, lethargic…tending not to take an active or dominant part…”
So how does this apply to fun? I think enjoyable activities can be divided into these two categoies. Active fun would be things you have to pur your own energy into to get any fun out of- any physical activity or project or anything that requires learning a skill- while passive fun would be something you observe or consume or simply take in. Passive fun can be enjoyable, certainly- like watching a good comedic movie, reading a favorite book or stopping while driving to look at a beautiful view- but I find in general, active fun sticks with me longer. If I put more energy and effort into an experience, I tend to get more out of it. Examples of this would be enjoying the view while on an arduous hike, or finally mastering a difficult passage in a piece of music I’m playing on the piano. Listening to a virtuoso pianist playing that same passage is enjoyable, certainly, but the “fun” of that doesn’t stay with me as long.
Of course, as with anything else in life, there should (ideally) be a balance between these two things. Finding that balance might be a challenge but the results would be well worth it, I imagine. This thougth seems closely related to the odd fact that sometimes things we don’t enjoy doing while we’re actually doing them can bring us a lot of enjoyment at a later point, but that’s another topic.