“Fun” isn’t a word I’ve personally utilized much since 2019. The apocalyptic vibes and division of 2020 (that continued into 2021) did not lend themselves to many positive experiences. After the excitement of the whipped coffee, Tiger King, and virtual trivia days wore off, life became much less about fun and quite literally about survival. My concept of fun went from jetting off for a weekend trip to sitting in the front yard six feet away from my friends for a picnic.
Annie F. Downs (one of my favorite authors & podcasters) recently released a book called That Sounds Fun (after the name of her podcast). In typical Nashville fashion, Annie happens to live in my apartment complex. So my new goal for the year is to meet her and somehow play it cool enough to become her friend (I guess I’ll leave out the part about knowing where she lives). After reading just a few chapters of That Sounds Fun, I am already convinced that a return to having fun is also a return to finding hope.
Inspired by Annie, my latest answer to the question “what sounds fun?” was pickleball. I am not athletically inclined when it comes to coordinated sports, but when a friend suggested a day of pickleball with our pals, I jumped on it. This group of friends would be a judgment-free zone—which is very necessary if I’m going to try hitting a ball with a racket of any kind. If you haven’t played pickleball before, it’s basically a smaller version of tennis and a life-sized version of ping pong (spoken by someone who does not understand the rules of either of those sports). The bar for athleticism was low—we cheered each time we managed to propel the ball over the net—and it was the absolute best time.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve aged out of having fun. I’m very grateful to work a 9-to-five-5 job and listen to podcasts and meal prep and exercise and clean my apartment and do it all again the next week. But in the midst of that adult routine and a paralyzing pandemic, fun feels like something that was reserved for adolescence. It’s as if the freedom to have it was traded in exchange for my college diploma.
But, as Annie writes so eloquently, it doesn’t have to be that way. Looking for fun and finding it in new and unexpected places can actually be a pushback to a world that can be crueler than we imagined; a chance to say “hope is out there somewhere” even if it’s only felt in the most fleeting of moments.
What sounds fun to you, right now? How will you push back against darkness and find hope? I’ve opted for pickleball, reading more books, and spending lots of time in the trees. And writing about fun sounded pretty fun. But having hope that wounds will heal, that we will grow, and that togetherness is in the near future sounds like the most fun of all.
Olivia graduated from Calvin in May 2018 with a double major in business and writing. She now works as an editor in Nashville, Tennessee and is eating her way through the restaurants of her new town. She enjoys weekend trips with friends, petting other people’s dogs, and drinking coffee like a Gilmore Girl.