While looking at options for the cover of the July/August issue, my mind wandered, as it often does, and I began to wonder if I’ve lost the ability to have fun. People drawn to solitary pursuits like editing have uncommon ideas of what constitutes a good time. But still, there ought to be balance.
There’s no real problem. As I write this, songs performed by the greatest musicians ever to strum the guitar stream into my ears. The lunch I’ve perfected over the past year tastes better to me than anything I could get in a restaurant. I’m reclining in a giant, plush chair, my feet up. The words flow easily.
So why, as restrictions lift, do I find myself longing for silent mountains and fire-heated cabins rather than crowds and … what is it we once did for fun? It’s hard to remember. I think it had something to do with beer.
I wake up most days at dawn, and so does my youngest daughter. We have a complicated routine, in which I try to grind coffee beans and brew a cuppa joe while she tries to stop me. Before fatherhood, I never realized the number of steps involved in giving a child a glass of water. An hour or so later, my oldest daughter will burst into the living room with the energy of Joan Jett circa 1980.
Fourteen hours later, my eyes bloodshot, a thin line of drool hanging off my bottom lip, I stumble to the garage, where I’ve built a ramshackle office out of discarded furniture. I put on my noise canceling earbuds, grab a pen, and get to work.
Part of me figures I should be eager to rejoin the wider world after what we went through last year. But it’s just a quiet voice, not inspiring much beyond a trip to the gas station for a bottle of Gatorade Zero. I begin to reflect on the week — wow, I really unloaded the dishwasher in a cool way, or, it was really great to figure out how to update my laptop’s RAM. That was awesome. Shopping for bug spray, organizing a sprawling collection of charging devices, ordering a book online that I will never read. What more could a person want? Kings of old knew not such pleasures.
Beyond the pandemic, part of this reflects maturity (I should probably put that one in quotes) and trying to be a good dad (I should probably italicize the word trying). After all, my own pleasures are beside the point, spiritually and evolutionarily. My life doesn’t need to feel like a party. All that really matters is that my daughters feel secure and well loved. Here is happiness — bearing witness to their daily revelations gives me a joy beyond compare.