Fun is a good enough reason

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

As a parent, I have often been told that a toy or activity promotes something. (Eg: Playing with blocks promotes small motor skills and spacial awareness.)

It feels that our current society is very focused on the end goal. There are extremes where parents will structure and plan every activity towards a specific goal. But even the laid back parents fall into the trap of assuming that their kids will want to do a job because they enjoy an activity.

I’m guilty of this for myself and my kids. It’s a dangerous attitude because it turns everything that you can do as a stress reliever into some form of marketable product.

Even things that were once just hobbies have started to be marketable. There’s an entire new economy for Professional Game Facilitators for table table games. (AKA Dungeon Masters or Games Masters) Video game testers, reviewers, and streamers are huge.

It’s an attitude that made me choose to give up hobbies because I’d never be “good enough” to make money from it and I didn’t want to waste the time it would take to get to that point. Poetry, bass guitar, drawing, soccer, fencing, photography, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

When I was in high school, I took music. I had to take it in the English school since mine didn’t have the option. I must have been okay because I made the cut for the band and we won several competitions. I played the tenor saxophone and my first exam the teacher told me I sounded like a tortured cow. Despite that “tough love,” I continued to play and enjoyed it. That was the thing, I enjoyed it. I’d play waiting for the late bus or on Sundays. When I graduated, I had to give back the instrument and a tenor sax is not cheap.

It’s now been 19 years since I touched a sax and I doubt I’d remember how to do a scale. I’ve seen used ones and considered getting one, but it never seemed worth it.

In university, my brother wanted to start a band, so he bought me a bass. I practised, but wasn’t great. After a while, I just decided I wasn’t good enough. Also in university, I was in the residence life choir.

I made some great friends and had lots of fun. I did karaoke with my brother (who was super supportive) and my roommates (who were hyper-critical).

Like the sax, I liked singing and since I was being told I wasn’t that great (I wasn’t), I decided it wasn’t worth doing it anywhere but the shower.

This summer, to avoid copyright infringement, my wife decided to write an original song for a novel she was writing. It turned into her deciding to learn guitar so that she could include the chords in the book. At the same time, we were binge watching High School Musical: The Musical The Series.

I watched the show and my wife learning guitar and something inside me became sad. I wanted to make pretty noises. I wanted to recapture the joy I had at playing the sax or singing.

I struggled with the idea that I would have to dedicate a lot of time, which I didn’t have, to become good enough to perform or join a band. How could I make money or show that the work was worth it if I did decide to learn or continue with music.

That’s when I realized that enjoyment can be enough. I don’t have to be good, I don’t have to make money, I don’t have to do anything with it. So I decided:

Fuck money, fuck side hustles, and fuck society’s need to monetize everything! I’m going to learn the Ukulele.

We bought a used tenor ukulele which will come in the next few weeks and a really cheap soprano uke that I’ve been learning on. It’s fun and frustrating, but when I get into the groove, it’s just as wonderful as I remember.

I’m terrible and I have a lot to learn, but I’m having fun. I’m still struggling with the idea that doing something for just me isn’t selfish or silly. It’s stress relieving and fun.

And you know what? To paraphrase Dragon’s current catchphrase, “I’m allowed to have fun.”

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Dear Dragon and Pegasus – Your Mum

Dear Dragon and Pegasus,

As of this writing, it’s been exactly 4,950 days since I met your mother. On Wednesday, it’ll be our 13.5 year dating anniversary and our 10th wedding anniversary.

By the time you read this, you’ll probably think we’ve been together forever. Sometimes I feel that way too. It’s hard to imagine my life without her.

The two of us have been through a lot together. She’s helped me through some of the toughest parts of my life. To you, she’s just your Mum, but I don’t think you’ll ever understand how much she loves you. (I’m not sure she does either.)

If there’s one thing you have to know about your Mum, it’s that she’s always thinking of your best interests. (Well maybe not always, but in all the big things.) She wants you to be happy.

She’s not perfect; she’ll get completely sucked into a game or story. She can get overwhelmed and get grumpy. She’s WAY too hard on herself about almost anything. But no matter what, she will drop anything for family, friends, and especially you; to listen and support.

She throws herself body, heart, soul, into her relationships. Because of that, she leaves herself open to being hurt, but so often she makes amazing friends. She sees the best in everyone and loves everyone.

If you reach out to her, she will always be ready with a hug, an attentive ear, and a kind word.

There’s a lot in this world that’s scary, a lot that is bad, and even more that’s sad. Count yourself lucky that you have a Mum that will hug you and be there for you when you need her. The world can’t be all that bad when it has someone so open and willing to love.

She’s my favourite person, my best friend, and by far the best part of me. Remember to take care of her the way she will always take care of you.

Your loved Papa

P.S. She gives great hugs.

We’re a Team (Or why my Wife does the things I don’t want to.)

My wife went to New York last week and I was hit by the realization that I no longer have the complete skills it takes to survive alone.

Ok maybe I’m exaggerating but the fact that we’ve each specialized in certain tasks becomes more and more evident every year.

This might seems confusing or odd but when your partner is willing, and good, at doing something then it’s natural to let them do it. It frees your time and energy to do other things that you’re good at instead.

In a large group, my wife will do more talking that I will, no matter what group it is. She’s much better at approaching people at events.

On the flip side if we’re in a store I will automatically take the lead and speak with the staff.

There are countless other little things, like how she remembers people’s birthdays and reminds me.

This is an interesting phenomenon and makes me wonder if a lot of failed partnerships (romantic, business, friend, etc) are due to the fact that people don’t want to give up, or take, control of the same things.

Let’s say you ran a bakery and you loved kneading the bread but hated mixing it. If your partner was ok to mix it but wanted to knead it too, you’d have to compromise or tensions would be the only things rising. (Bread puns dough not get old.)

Maybe it’s not just about what comes naturally but what you’re willing to do even when you don’t want to.

Does this form of partnering, where you let the other do the stuff their better at, cause a loss of self or opportunities for self-discovery?

In theory it’s only by failing that we learn from our mistakes but if there’s someone there to help us prevent the mistakes does that mean we’re not learning? Does letting someone else remember all the details of Lord of the Rings make me less of a fan?

Good questions to ask. I obviously have a biased view. I think that having my wife do things that she’s good at, frees me up to do things I won’t be able too. Sometimes that ends terribly, like the time I decided to try and learn metal working (our poor table). And sometimes it ends well, like the time I decided to learn how to roast and flavour my own coffee (the end product is yummy, not sure if it’ll be profitable yet).

 

These are the types of things I think about while roasting coffee for 10+ hours.

Is there a task that your partner (business, Romantic, etc) takes care of that you’re extremely thankful you don’t need to do?

Eric

Anniversaries

Yesterday I celebrated the 8th year of dating my wife and 4.5 years of marriage.

The older I get the harder I find it to have perspective on the quantity of time I’ve spent. 8 years doesn’t feel that long, and then I realize that it’s a quarter of my life. I have spent over a quarter of my life with my wife. Wow.

We’re not big on hullabaloo for our anniversaries. For our wedding anniversaries we either relax at home or recreate our first date. Last night we went to a restaurant and the “Midnight” premier of The Hobbit. Thankfully it’s not really at midnight but 10pm.

Relationships are hard! All of them are, not just romantic ones. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new friendship but it’s harder to upkeep it in the long run.

A romantic relationship has so many extra stigma’s and insecurities that they are extra hard.

Like so many other things in my life, I didn’t know what I was doing when I met my wife. I still don’t, but I do know enough to be thankful. I don’t just have a wife. I have a friend, and a partner.

Anniversaries should be about enjoying each other and appreciating what you have. Love you Sweetie!