What's at least as much fun as a bag of Wienerdogs?
The TV show Doctor Who.
It's fun, playful and full of wonder, and it's also full of substance and integrity. The hero who won't use weapons or violence, but is always using knowledge, intelligence, empathy and compassion to help save the day/earth/starship/planet/universe/alternate universe/species. Who even after several lifetime's worth of disappointments and hurts is still seeking out new experiences, connecting with new people and enjoying what life has to offer with wisdom-tinted optimism.
I recently came across a great quote from the show:
When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.
Doctor Who (Love and Monsters)
I couldn't believe it when I saw the very first episode of the new run, starting with Doctor #8. Too often there's this divide: serious fiction with substance, and fun fiction without. And too often the serious stuff carries the adult oppression message: life is a hopeless series of tragedies and then you die wounded from it; the lighter stuff holds out a mindlessly optimistic cheery message that good always triumphs just because it's good. One beats you down with inescapable misery and the dark side of human nature, the other makes false claims that can only lead to tremendous disappointment and cynicism when life doesn't live up to them.
Why is tragedy always considered high art, and comedy always labelled low entertainment? Because a tragedy is supposed to teach us something about life—a reality about it. And comedy is supposed to provide escape from it. But maybe humor, fun, play and laughter aren't escapes and diversions, but important truths themselves. Just truths we have decided to discredit as juvenile and leave behind as adults. Tears aren't real and laughter frivolous—tears and laughter both need to come in equal measure for a healthy, balanced life. We not only need to know how bad it can get, we need to feel how good it is in equal measure for things like perspective and wisdom.
Back to Doctor Who and Rose. Here was a show combining both. And as it went on it wasn't getting cancelled! It just keeps attracting more and more viewers who love it. Personally, that gives me hope.
Life is hard, and full of people hurting others, and life is good with people doing so many good things. Bad things will always keep happening, and good things will always keep happening. Each episode trucks with both, but ultimately the story lines do try to delve thoughtfully and rationally into keeping the bad and the dark and the hurt from turning you into a bitter, disillusioned, damaged person causing even more hurt. And part of that is to keep a firm grip on taking pleasure in what life has to offer. Which the Doctor does. And which we fans get to do by watching and enjoying the episodes.
Thank you to all the writers and people who have made the show the tremendous treat it is. You help keep Adults Playing.
Someone who recently read my blog told me it was about telling people the most important thing in life is to have fun, no matter what. I was a bit stunned. I've taken great pains to make sure my words couldn't be misinterpreted that way.
I'm a writer by choice and career, so I've studied how to pick and chose your words to express what you mean—and at the same time, ideally not convey anything you don't mean—for fifteen years now. So hearing the content of my blog reflected back to me as exactly what I've been trying to avoid has to make me think.
Have I failed to communicate what I really mean here?
Looking back over my posts, I certainly don't see it. I strongly advocate responsibility and taking life seriously.
Or is it possible that the oppression of adults in this area is so strong, certain people will read their reactionary responses into what I write, no matter what I write?
So that merely to say: fun and play are good things to maintain in your life as an adult, will only be heard by some people as an adolescent cry to 'party hearty'? That seems more likely to me. I wouldn't have started this blog if it was on a topic everybody already agreed on, and if I didn't think I could do some good with it. My work in peer counseling and on ending oppressions since 1994 is what lead me down this path. As a creative person, and someone burdened by over-responsibilty as a child, I've fought to reclaim the good things that come from wonder, play and fun. I've seen how hard the push is to make grown-ups repudiate them in the name of feeling superior to children. And the damage done to us all by the idea that children are lesser to adults and that only kids have something to learn from adults. Just like the idea that it's only woman who have something to learn from men, when the reverse is true for both.
Nowhere do I ever say that life is all about having fun and that that's the most important thing. I would consider that something akin to hedonism, which goes against the grain of hopefullness and the deep seated belief in human goodness that I do believe in. Hedonist don't think life is about fun, they believe life is so bad (it sucks and then you die), that in response they act on the idea that pleasure is the only thing worth pursuing. That's all about a form of hopelessness, and a deep seated despair of human nature. This blog is about holding out some truths that sometimes get obscured by oppression. That FCI, wonder, and play are not things you have to give up in childhood in order to become a 'real' adult, and that being an adult doesn't have to mean letting yourself be ground down by responsibility and productivity to the point of 'clouded brow' bitterness and resentment.
Here's someone who puts it really well:
Whether you agree or not, thanks for reading my posts. And your comments are welcome.
Amber Michelle Cook's Blog
A call to all grown-ups everywhere: Play!