Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Deeper Fun

Once, I wrote a piece about wedding receptions and about the idea of being forced to have fun -- about how distasteful I find that. (And boy, was I sorry about the title, after the number of unsavory sites that linked to me. There must have been a lot of disappointed mouse-wielding perverts out there that week. They must have felt like they had been "Rick-Rolled".)  Anyway, I was thinking about this again, only with a sharper dissection knife.

The great Gene Krupa
I don't like to dance. I have nothing against dancing or against those who enjoy the activity -- I just don't find it fun. Now, here's the problem: People who enjoy dancing enjoy it so much that they want everyone around them to enjoy it. If you claim that you don't like to dance or that you do not want to dance, the people who like to dance (as sure about the universal joy that dancing brings as the missionaries were about the salvation they were bringing in to the South American jungles regardless of the heedless destruction of indigenous culture) try to pull you onto the floor. It is, to them, their duty to show you the fun you are missing.

If you resist, you are a bore; a stick in the mud; a wallflower. It couldn't possibly be that you have tried dancing and find it completely uninteresting. To them, the only logical conclusion is that you need to be saved from your stuffy self.

Here's the rub: I can see why dancing is fun to people. I love music, so I can see why people want to participate in the music by moving their bodies along with it. But that is not enough for me. Why? Because I have encountered deeper fun than dancing can bring. I have played drums with other musicians. I have created the rhythm. Dancing, to me, is like eating dry crackers compared to the gourmet feast that is making music. Reacting to the rhythm is simply not as cool as controlling it -- shaping the rhythmic direction of musical expression.

The other side of rhythm
As a kid, I used drool over racetrack sets that I saw on commercials. Then, for Christmas, I would get a track, play with it for ten seconds and become bored. I had friends who would play with these tracks incessantly. For them, the whirring cars were enough -- the flashing lights and the thrill of the cars' "to-scale" speed kept them enraptured. Around that time, I remember reading a book called The Red MG -- or something like that -- and being fascinated by the world of car racing. I needed a deeper kind of fun when it came to cars. I wanted to be in the fibre of it, not just to be the button-pusher for a poor imitation.

I know how this sounds: like I am saying that I am so much superior to these dancing/gear-headed fools: "Oooh. I'm Chris, the blog philosopher. I'm so cool." But that isn't my point. In fact, I am the "dancing fool" when it comes to other things -- lots of other things. For instance:

One of my favorite meditative activities is building with wooden blocks. I do it with my sons, but, sometimes, I will even pull out the blocks when they are not around. I find it very satisfying to set the blocks on top of one another -- balancing and counter-balancing them into elaborate buildings. I suppose I am fulfilling a creative urge, but there is something about the marriage of the concrete and the creative that speaks to me. Sometimes, I even take pictures of the structures I have built.

Would an architect, who has had the deeper satisfaction of seeing his building designs come to life, be as amused by wooden blocks as I am? Probably not. He has had deeper "fun" than I have when it comes to creating edifices. I'm not going to accuse him of being a "stick-in-the-mud" because he doesn't want to build with blocks.

And when it comes to food, I am not what you would call sophisticated, despite my previous metaphor. I'm a food rube. I would never try to coax a gourmand into joining me in a McDonald's lunch; her deep appreciation, which dwarfs mine, would lead her not to want to join my silly dance. I'd have no grounds to try to make her feel guilty for not chomping into a Big Mac.

So where does this leave us? Nowhere new, I guess. But maybe we could consider that some people have found deeper fun in certain areas than we have and that not all things are fun to all people, even if they are so fun to us that we can't understand why someone else wouldn't want to participate. For me, though, it also makes me consider whether or not I am missing out on something; to consider whether someone is getting a deeper draught of the wine of life than I am. If I loved dancing, I would consider learning an instrument; I wouldn't insult the musician for not dancing.

Either way, once you sing with an orchestra, karaoke is never the same. This, I know.


  1. And where were you when I was getting hauled off to dance by my assailants? NOWHERE!

    All I have to hang my hat on is this blog post. You should also tag this article with "too little, too late"

  2. Oh, stop it. You simply radiate joy on the dance floor. You can't fool me, Gene Kelly. In your case, the "assailant" truly introduced you to an untapped joy.