I have a troublesome habit of wishing I was someone else. The problem with this habit is that it has disguised itself as idle fantasy. I’ll be watching TV or drifting around the Internet, not interested in anything in particular but wishing I was, when I’ll happen on someone doing something cool. It might be a comedian killing it, or a musician playing something beautiful, or a journalist talking authoritatively about the latest political brouhaha. Before long I’ll think, “That looks like fun.”
I soon compare how much fun that someone else seems to be having with how much fun I know I am having at that very moment. The other person is clearly having more fun. There is not one time in my life when I do not want to have more fun. I’ve never thought, “I better not do that; I might have fun.” And so the fantasy begins. I am now a comedian, musician, or journalist. Not that comedian, musician, or journalist, I still look and sound like me, but I have somehow slipped into this other person’s life and now get to do what they’re doing. In the fantasy, I’m having fun. Meanwhile, in reality, I’m still sitting on the couch.
I have long thought that this was perfectly innocuous. Instead of watching TV I’m just watching my imagination. What’s the harm? Then the other night I was watching the Joe McHale Show. Joe and his guest were bantering and being funny and the crowd was laughing and everyone was having fun and I began to slip into the fantasy – and then stopped. I thought, “I don’t want to be on that show. That’s not actually what my fun looks like.”
My fun, it so happens, looks like writing these essays, or teaching workshops, or interviewing authors, or just generally talking to anyone about why life is worth living. That’s my brand of fun. I did not notice, however, until that evening how having this fantasy took a little effort. I had to contort myself mentally into being the kind of person who would have as much fun as Joe and his guest seemed to be having. Sitting on my couch I compared fantasy to reality, and realized it was time to break this habit.
To be fair, I developed this habit when I wasn’t having a lot of fun. I wasn’t having it because I hadn’t really found it. In my yearning for fun I grew accustomed to the effort of fantasy. Any port in a storm, I reckoned. Except the storm of boredom will continue until you find your homeport. I could not find it as long as I believed more in effort than effortlessness, and that fun was always somewhere else being had by other people.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual or group workshops.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com