(And if you’ve served in the Army, you know there’s an ‘Army way,’ as well – but we’ll leave that alone for this post.)
I was taking a walk along a dirt road the other day with my Little Dude – my almost-3-year-old son, who is at the age where he simply HAS to do everything himself. I had been pushing him in his stroller, but after awhile he wanted to get out and walk. I took him out, and he immediately wanted to push the stroller.
“My do,” he shouted. “my do, my do!!!”
“All right, all right, you can do,” I chuckled, and I let him get behind the stroller and start pushing. He may only be two, but he’s a tall little dude , so pushing the full-size stroller was actually not that difficult a task for him.
Within a few minutes, however, he was in a rut.
He wasn’t mad or anything, I mean he was literally in the rut on the edge of the road, shoving and maneuvering and doing his best to move the stroller forward. I tried to help him out of the rut and onto the level part of the road, but he kept steering the stroller back into the muddy, stony rut. I finally took over and pushed the stroller back onto the level part of the road, but he resisted my assistance.
And by ‘resist,’ I mean he screamed.
He then got behind the stroller, and with a loud, “My do!” he was happily back in the rut.
It’s not wrong – it’s fun!
I was just about to try to straighten him out again when it dawned on me: He knows exactly what he’s doing. He knew being in the rut wasn’t the easiest way to push the stroller…but it also wasn’t necessarily the wrong way. He wasn’t just pushing the stroller for the purpose of moving it forward; he was pushing it because it was fun trying to navigate the terrain of rocks, mud, and unlucky tire treads.
For him, he wanted the challenge – he was enjoying the challenge – and this was absolutely the correct way of doing it.
This was the fun way.
It made me wonder how often we adults take the time to do things the fun way. We all have jobs to do, and yes, we need to do them the right way. Doing them the wrong way can be deleterious to our careers, our marriages, or our way of life. But sometimes there is a third way of doing things that we often can’t see because we are so focused on all the other demands of our adult lives.
Last week, I was raking the lawn – and we have a bunch of oak, maple, and cherry trees that drop copious amounts of leaves all over the place. In one part of the lawn, the layers of leaves were so think you literally could not even see any grass! But as I raked, I knew my son would love the opportunity to play in them. So as I made my piles, I made one extra-big pile he could jump in and kick and roll around in…and he was thrilled.
As I hauled the leaves in the other piles away in my wheel-barrow, he played and laughed and had a ball. Every now and then, I’d rake up the stray leaves to keep his pile looking good, but generally there was not much extra effort on my part. I could have just done my thing and then gotten mad at him for jumping in the piles of leaves (which he inevitably would have done) – but I instead chose the fun way. And it not only made his day, it kept me from getting frustrated at him jumping in all my leaf piles!
Similarly, after a visit to the doctor’s office during the summer, we were walking in the parking lot on our way to the car when I noticed a lawn sprinkler in a grassy patch to our right. I took the little dude’s hand and we went out of our way to walk through it. And since walking through a sprinkler only once on a hot summer day just wouldn’t do, we had to walk back through it again. And again.
By the time we made it to the car, we were approaching ‘drench’ status. My wife, already at the car, just looked at me and rolled her eyes, knowing that I had had as much fun as my son.
The next time you have a creative project to undertake, think about how you want to approach it; certainly, you want to do it the right way, but examine a more ‘fun’ way, as well. Whether or not you decide to go forward with the ‘fun’ way, it helps close some brain synapses that may have gone neglected for too long and may provide some unexpected inspiration.
If you are an audio producer with some time on your hands, think about your favourite movie or song or even commercial, and see if you can create something fun out of it – perhaps writing a parody of the song, producing a humourous fake commercial, or re-voicing and re-producing a favourite scene in a movie.
I did, a few years ago, when I had some spare time on my hands. I re-produced a scene from a certain famous ‘pirate’ movie – with my own music and sound effects - just for kicks:
If you write novels but have always wanted to write a children’s book, sit down and start! Or if you write children’s books but secretly yearn to write satirical historical erotica, go for it! It doesn’t matter if it’s any good, the point is that it’s fun – and by doing, you end up learning.
Maybe you’ll learn how to better structure a project you’re already working on.
Maybe you’ll discover a talent you didn’t know you have.
Perhaps you’ll start to learn the intricacies of another craft.
Or, you just might learn that there are some projects and genres you simply aren’t cut out for.
But at least you had fun.