I was asked recently by a very concerned friend if I was all right. We were in one of the most idyllic places on earth as she asked me this. She asked completely out of the blue. After assuring her that I was “Fine! … Good! … Excellent!”, I realised that my brow was furrowed in deep focus. I must have looked like I was scowling. Hence her question. The reason for this scowling, I realised, was that I was trying to concentrate very hard. I was expending every effort to make sure that I was taking in all the loveliness of the place I was in. I was absolutely straining to ensure that I wasn’t missing any of it. This is one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever been Georgia, so soak it up, you won’t be here for much longer, and if you don’t take full advantage, you’ll be annoyed that you missed it … The degree to which I was panicking over “missing it” before I’d even left was almost harrowing. I wanted to luxuriate in the moment so much that I was exhausting myself trying.
I can often dress my own ridiculousness up as eccentricity or “character” … but not in this instance. This situation is waving a very brightly coloured flag that plainly reads “Silly!”. And as soon as I noticed this farcical little paradox, I realised how often I wind myself up in it – wrapping myself up in my own, brightly-coloured, silly flag and saluting to the captain of absurdity: “Captain!”
When a friend asks me if I’m happy it can send me into a tail-spin of panic. I’ll think, Ummm, am I happy? Good question. Am I? … I mean, yeah. I guess so. I don’t think I’m unhappy. I haven’t really stopped to think about it … Maybe I’m actually unhappy and I’m in denial … or maybe I’m deliriously happy and I’m just the sort of person who’s never satisfied … I don’t even know if I’m qualified to say what happy is and what it isn’t … Am I? … And what if I say I’m happy now, does that mean that there’s no more room for improvement – like I’m declaring that this level I’m at now is the benchmark for happiness? That’s like giving a 10 out of 10 – I may want to give happiness a higher score than this later on … It may get better … Oh God … And invariably, after a long pause while all this runs through my head, I’ll say “Yeah, I’m not bad”. And the question of my own happiness has usually left me a little tortured … a little unhappy.
… Now salute – “Captain!”
It reminds me of a badge my mother used to wear in the 1980s that read, “Are we having fun yet?”. Mum always got an amused comment from someone when she wore it (which was often). It also became a sort of catch-cry in and around our house. While negotiating the domestic chores with her un-helpful children for example, just after explaining that the cleaning does actually have to be done every week, my Mum would take a deep breath, smile and ask calmly, “Are we having fun yet?”. She’d use the phrase as a reminder to herself and others to lighten up and get on with it, but it also meant something else. Just like me bursting an internal valve trying to enjoy a beautiful place. Or beating myself to intellectual death with the question of the existence of happiness. There’s that delightfully ironic conundrum: You can’t possibly be doing it if you’re asking yourself whether or not your are (you just stopped doing everything, so you could check).
They’re such great questions … Are we having fun yet? Is this it? Is this the fun bit? Is it happening now? Am I doing it right? … Am I enjoying myself now? … Am I relaxing? Listening? Loosening up? … Am I loving it? Am I happy? … Tell me when it’s happening won’t you, because I’d hate to miss it.
“Captain Ridiculous!” [salute]
12 comments on “Are We Having Fun Yet?”
Good morning Chettie!
This is about as orgasmic as anything you’ve said so far. You’ve underscored the current trend to turn everything into a competition. Sports were always competitive, save for All-in Tag Wrestling, which is clearly highly collaborative. Now sports must also be Extreme. this extends from Full-contact Pinball to Deep-injury Moth Collecting via Total-penetration Numismatics. Even Yoga, devised as a Structured Period of Checking Your Body for Ticks, Fleas and Unsightly Blemish, has become Ultra-Violent. The Yogist must stretch the limbs until various sinews rip, and must then beat himself over the head with parts of his own trunk, finally rendering himself unconscious with a blow to the left temple administered by the right buttock. A long way from a thing once closely resembling a short nap.
Everything must be Intense these days, apparently. It’s not acceptable to be in quiet enjoyment for a few moments, while languidly searching for the tissue-box. The happiness needs to be accompanied by screaming, shouting, roaring and grunting. If you haven’t got laryngitis it wasn’t Fun enough to be convincing. Well, I don’t give a shit about that, and shall continue to award myself small blobs of quiet bliss, and fuck the showmanship. Why don’t you give it a try? Keep your joy a special secret, like those smells you get in a sleeping bag. Chill a bit, Chet, and eke out the ecstasy
Love forever, UM
I love your ability to capture & describe a single moments thought. Those moments we skim over. I love how you drill down into them and hit the core. Top work little lady!
This has to be one of my favourites Georgia. Amazing writing! I know this because, toward the beginning, I actually felt anxious and panicked, and then that feeling melted into a calm, relaxed smile – and a giggle fell out.
Anyone can write. But not anyone can take readers on the journey with them. That part is talent and skill (and you have it).
very good work Georgie…we ARE happy…yet.
i would love to know what place made you so happy
Your mum is a clever lady (and the apple does not fall far from the tree). Are we having fun yet…? We should all have that badge. Even better, we could permanently stamp that slogan on our skin, like a warriors tattoo, to remind us to smile more often 🙂
Love your work Georgie!
I’m pretty sure you have always been happily having fun, Georgie May, in a fashion…
And you’re wise to pause and focus hard on absorbing the wonderfulness of the moment/sight/sound/flavour/sound
to such an extent that your little brow furrows – when you become an elder, like your old hunny checkie, all them glorious moments/sights/flavours/sounds get scrimbled up together and retrieval for the purposes of retrospectif savouring becomes quite difficult. I often feel regretful about not having laid down more dendrites from visual cortex to orbito-frontal when the experience first happened. That way I wouldn’t be so struggling now when I’m trying to talk these things through with your cousins (in terms of cautionary tales or moments of liss the can themselves replicate).
So keep on squeezin’ all them goodies out, Lovely One.
you’re right miss. too often i try too hard to have fun than actually enjoying the ride. i really am trying to make an earnest effort of doing the fun before actually thinking about it… otherwise as you mention, the fun might just slip through my fingers even before i’ve had a chance to savour it.
I love they way you always leave me with something to think about.
Now that you ask and now that I’ve thought about it…..I’m pretty sure I’m having fun. That makes me happy.
I find the phrase “Are we having fun yet” to be used in a slightly more ironic style. Example. I am teaching a new group of students. Several are having trouble with difficult concepts (i.e. breathing). During a routine out of air simulation one person removes their mask, for no reason the instructor can fathom, and instantly goes into panic mode. Another student, while flailing about to try and achieve neutrally buoyancy, catches the instructor an almighty kick squarely into the nether regions, and now instructor is having trouble breathing (and focussing) also. Current on the marker, usually pleasant or non-existant, is so strong that bubbles are horizontal and every student has to be escorted from the boat to the bottom and back again. After 30 minutes of mayhem, having nearly drained my tank (normally will last two hours), I pull myself out of the water, whereupon one of the more experienced divers gives me a grin and says “Are we having fun yet?” And you realise you wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Note – with regards to students, present company is of course excepted.
@ Uncle Marco – I am languidly reaching for the tissue-box dear Uncle, but I assure you, the smells in the sleeping bag where not mine!
@ Kate Williamson – You’re one of the kids that taught me the joys of capturing single moments my Kate. I can’t wait to have more of them with you. Missing you a little more than a little.
@ Deb Kay Fox – You’re another of the kids that taught me the good stuff. Eternal gratitude that we get to journey together darling Deb.
@ bunkies – It was on a little island in Malaysia called Langkawi … on the beach, at sunset, with two divine lady friends … But don’t tell anyone.
@ James Rainbow – You make me smile my warrior friend! Hope you’re smiling too?! HAVE FUN YET!
@hunny checkie – I’m squeezing ‘em hunny. But you’ll need to stop referring to my glorious aunt as “old” – she is, after all, in the middle. And she’s refreshingly current (demonstrated by the fact that she reads her niece’s columns, AND comments!).
@ darce face – With regard to “ernest fun” the other Ernest (Hemingway) put it quite well when he said “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master”. Practicing the fun is what matters. Practice, practice, practice.
@ Katie Kate – thanks for ruminating my love – I’m glad you’re happy. That makes me rather happy.
@ Shane – Oh how I miss scuba diving with you and Bontang crew!!!
Did I leave my ferret around here somewhere?
@ azman – Yes.