Fun Is A Serious Business

My title is stolen from one of the paragraph captions to Samantha Ellis’s delightful short piece, “Ten Things Anne of Green Gables Taught Me.”

I buy in to every one of Ellis’s propositions, even the troubling “Own Your Own Rage.”  Generally, I am dead-set against either sex hitting each other.  A little talked about element of athlete Joe Mixon knocking a woman unconscious a couple of years ago in a fast-food restaurant is that she shoved him first.  She put her hands upon him without his consent.  That still means that what he did was completely inexcusable, but if it is inexcusable for a man to hit a woman (and it is), it is just as inexcusable for a woman to hit a man.  It happens all the time, but it’s time that it all stopped.

Having disclaimed so much, however, it is ludicrous to believe that women cannot or should not become enraged once in a while.  Given the abject stupidity and pointy-headedness they often have to tolerate in their men, it’s remarkable they control themselves as much as they do.  I am not one who actually hangs my head every day and says to himself, “Geez, what screw-ups we men are!”  That’s stupid, self-defeating, and flat-out not true, and I don’t do that to myself or encourage it in others.  Yet, when we men do say thoughtless, stupid, hurtful things, or perform stupid acts, often the manliest thing we can do in recompense is to stand there and endure the justified anger of those who love us and care about us.  That rage is one of the signs of how much they care.

Anne says, “[y]ou can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”  This is a youthful formulation of Samuel Johnson’s “readiness to be pleased,” an attitude of the mind and heart that Johnson thought was the last and best acquisition of the fully adult, fully mature human being.  Many of us are scared of new and strange things, and that fear often deepens as we get older, but Johnson didn’t view life as something to be frightened of.  Provided that we have help or good company along the way, a new experience (or even an old one) need not be a fright or a trial.  It can be yet another instance of something delightful, something fresh, within life’s infinitely renewable storehouse of wonders.



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