“To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life” (Gelett Burgess).

IT’S A SHAME IF WE EVER OUTGROW THE ABILITY TO HAVE FUN. Those who can’t appreciate a little nonsense or mischief now and then are not too mature to do so; they’re simply too unbalanced. Many centuries ago, Herodotus said, “If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.” It’s not a good thing never to lighten up and laugh at what’s funny.

When we start taking ourselves too seriously, that’s when we lose touch with life’s fun. And that can happen to any of us. We get to the point where our egos are so inflated we think that anyone who laughs at us is insulting us. We’re too touchy and defensive to see what’s so amusing to others. Yet all of us say and do things that are funny. Just as there is no person so lowly that his life has no dignity, there is no person so dignified that he can’t be laughed at. “Every man is important if he loses his life; and every man is funny if he loses his hat and has to run after it” (G. K. Chesterton). We can’t be important without occasionally being comic. Those are simply two sides of the same coin, and the sooner we realize that, the better off we’ll be.

There are boundaries beyond which fun ought not to go, of course. The enjoyment of fun should never be at the expense of higher priorities, and that’s a caution especially needed in a culture like ours which almost makes fun the prime goal in life. Although it is a value, fun is certainly not the ultimate value, and it must never be allowed to overrule more important principles. George Santayana said it well: “Fun is a good thing but only when it spoils nothing better.”

Within its limits, however, fun is fun! Its effect on us is like that of good medicine, and we ought to appreciate it. “No symphony orchestra ever played music like a two-year-old girl laughing with a puppy” (Bern Williams). With every ounce of our strength, we need to resist the forces that would pull our hearts into a place where there is no fun. Life in this world is a great ride, whether long or short. As Frank Zappa observed, “It’s not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity and make it work for you.”

“Ain’t we got fun?” (Raymond B. Egan).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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