Have Fun. Don’t Die.

I had an odd experience. I’ve been puzzling over it for a month now. You know when something happens that makes you stop and think? You wonder “huh, that’s different” or maybe it was strikingly familiar. Either way it feels remarkable but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Yeah, it was like that.

Here, have an image. Because you can’t have a blog post without one. And this is as relevant as I could muster.

So Annalesa and I went on a camping trip. For three days this scenario played out. She’d declare or ask about a particular goal, and I’d be completely noncommittal. It was weird because I’m usually so freakishly goal driven. I plan, I make lists, I set goals, I hold myself and others accountable. I like direction and achievement. We’ve grown up with me teaching her the importance of all of these things. And there I was completely flummoxing her with such uncharacteristic answers.

Annalesa packing: “So we’ll paddle 7 miles the first day?”
Me: “Or not, we’ll see.”
Annalesa looking at the map: “So we’ll eat here, and camp here.”
Me: “Or not. We’ll see.”
Annalesa bundled up against the wind: “Our goals is Kettle Falls, we’ll get there tomorrow.”
Me: *sigh*

This was continuing to be a frustrating interaction for both of us.  Who was this person?! How could I be so casual, so relaxed, so not goal driven? Where did this come from? I thought back to the honeymoon paddling trip, which was far more stressful. But even then the day-to-day was shockingly simple. We didn’t have an itinerary, or daily goal distances. Every day we would travel east, or not.

So I said to Annalesa, “This is our vacation. We can stay at this little shrubby spot the whole time, or perhaps we will paddle tomorrow. We don’t know what the weather will bring. My only goals are that we have fun, don’t die, and get back home by Sunday.”

And that became my mantra for the trip, “Have fun. Don’t die.”

I’ve been mulling over that mantra ever since. It brings the Zen like peace and balance to my overdrive life that I’ve been searching for in my yoga.  “Have fun. Don’t Die.” It is the most basic directive that brings simplicity to endless choices. It puts things into perspective. But it doesn’t work in everyday life.

Life is not always fun. That’s ok.
Don’t die is impossible in the big picture. In the small modern picture it’s a little too easy.

So how do I turn “Have fun. Don’t die.” into a daily motto?
I tried “Experience and contribute.” Just experience living, and contribute positively to the world. But it felt all wrong. Things like “just breathe” or “live life” rubbed me the wrong way. How about “Feel stuff. Do good?” I didn’t like the “good” part. Too much pressure! Not everyday or every moment is filled with generosity and goodness. Plus over history we know that even the most well intentioned acts can end in devastation. How about “Do things?” Ahhhhhh, much better. I can always do “things.”

So there it is. I’m going to try this motto on for size.
“Feel stuff.” Feel the sun, wind, rain, and ground. Feel happy, sad, excited, inspired, depressed, and loved. Feel muscles move, blood pulse, and skin touch. Feel stuff!
“Do things.” Things like breathing, eating, sleeping, and running. Do the dishes, and the hugging, and the laughing, and the laundry. Do the giving, working,  learning, and contributing. Do things!

“Feel stuff. Do things.”
Kym Zest’s new motto.


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5 Responses to Have Fun. Don’t Die.

  1. I really like this post. Perhaps because I’m always searching for wisdom, motivation, inspiration…. and consolation when those don’t work!
    Just yesterday, wondering why I seem to be behind on all my goals, and why my “to do” list grows more than it shrinks, I decided to use the mantra your mom (my sister, Nancy) taught me years ago: Move fast.
    But then again, on top of my list is to brush up on the talk I’m giving this Saturday. In this talk, (Saving Money, the Planet, and Your Sanity) I emphasize Siddhartha’s mantra: I can think, I can wait, I can fast. That’s my big picture mantra, and it serves me well. But as your post aptly points out, we need different mantras for different times. So right now, I’m adding “Move fast!”
    Thanks, Kym and Nancy, for sharing your wisdom.

    • Kym Zest says:

      Oh yes, we certainly need different mantras at different times in our lives. And different people need different things to bring them in to balance. I’m glad you enjoyed my post!

  2. Brent Gross says:

    This is a very compelling post. Welcome to the perimeter of wisdom. It’s hard being zen (in the pocketbook-wisdom sense of the term,) and being a trainer. From the ages of 18-21 I consumed a lot of tao, zen, eastern philosophy. I was profoundly impacted. Today, I struggle to live beyond the moment. With regard to relationships, we live in such a plan ahead society, everyone’s available and no one is… I remember a time before cell phones when I could just pop in on people. That’d be awkward today. In terms of training clients, I get some of the most positive feedback when I’m in the moment, leading someone through a workout that’s invigorating and fresh. However, too much randomness and a lack of direction pervades. I navigate the balance better now than I once did, but it’ll probably always be a challenge.

    Curious…did Annalesa prescribe to your mellow mood, did you drift to meet her? Did the trip turn out okay. I hope so. I hope things didn’t stay awkward.

    • Kym Zest says:

      Thanks for the welcome 🙂 I find being “zen” (yes totally the pocketbook-wisdom) and being what I think of as “good” at anything really hard. I think what I’m trying to do is understand that living in the moment, doesn’t mean never planning or accomplishing or striving. What I like about the “do things” part of my motto is it helps me be ok with the moment, whatever that is. That thing in the moment might be planning. For example, I might sit down to plan a client’s next three months of training. It does me no good to get caught in yesterday or even today if the moment is about by my mental projection into the future. Then when I’m actually with them I need to stay focused on doing whatever needs to be done and not get stuck in either the past for future. I have no idea if this makes sense or is “zen”
      As for Annalesa and I’s trip – I think it was fantastic. It wasn’t ever too awkward, and I think we got on the same page of being flexible with time. It’s been a long relationship (last two posts) and we always figure ourselves out.

  3. Pingback: Steeling Myself: Top 5 List of Pain and Fear | Midwest With Zest

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