Issue No. 19: For the Fun of It

Turn the Volume Up, Listen and Watch

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth are never alone or weary of life.”

- Rachel Carson

At the ripe old (young?) age of 34, I’m learning to ski. And after four lessons and a week in Whistler, BC, the biggest surprise has not been the sore shins, tired hands, or sheer workout of the effort, but the fact that I’ve found it to be pure play.

During my first lesson there was no other place I wanted to be. I wasn’t thinking about what was next on my to-do list or what I had to do tomorrow. I was thinking only about the task at hand: learning to use my edges to turn, leaning forward in my boots, mastering the “wedge,” and the snow coming down and piling on the top of my helmet. Afterward, feeling worked and content, I realized just how little I actually play, and just how little I’m fully present for the things that should be play.

Don’t get me wrong, I do plenty of things that would be considered fun. We hike, we travel often to cool places, we hang with friends, we try new restaurants, we cook new things, we sometimes watch silly movies, we make special trips to get ice cream. We’re always adventuring. But in all these things, I’m almost too intentional. Everything has to have a purpose (or purposes). Doing things for the simple sake that they’re fun never really ever crosses my mind.

I recently found myself on a beach walk with my younger sister in Hawaii—where we grew up and where she still lives—and she mentioned that when she was considering a personal theme for 2019 the first thing that came to mind was fun, to have more fun. All too often, for her and for me, our expectations of ourselves, our lives, and the people around us get in the way of the fun. (I give full credit to my sister, Taylor, for this observation.)

Which brings me back to skiing, it wasn’t just how I felt while skiing, but it was also how I felt afterward—calm and content, two states of being that are particularly elusive to me. When fun is the goal, when fun is the measure of success (or at least one of the primary measures), the other measures—How much did I get done today? How much money have I made? What’s my job title? Do I drive a nice car? How many followers do I have on social media? Etc.—just don’t matter. They’re forced to fall away, at least for a short period of time.

So, is there an antidote to modern life, the modern mind? Find something that is play, that is fun, and do it as often as possible.



  1. Listening to Brandi Carlile (she just won three Grammys and gave an incredible performance) on repeat ever since she made a guest appearance at Pete Souza’s book tour event at Benaroya Hall.

  2. Thinking that we may finally be moving in a better direction with some of the 9 big design trends of 2019. To start:

    “Do we need 1 million new apps a year? Do we need to design for constant engagement? Do we need to live in the corners of Dark UX? We do not. We need to be more intentional and design experiences that support cognitive sustainability for individuals, groups, and society.”

  3. Sharing with you the previously secret (until Sunset magazine shared it with the world), off-the-grid getaway outside of Leavenworth, WA: Alpine Lakes High Camp.

  4. Between hygge and ikigai, I swear I’m part Nordic and part Japanese. Getting up to speed on the latter with a tiny-but-mighty book, Ikigai: Giving Every Day Meaning & Joy.

  5. Switching from a low-tech pour-over over coffee to the equally low-tech stovetop espresso.

  6. Brushing up on some incredibly relevant U.S. history with These Truths by New Yorker writer and Harvard history professor Jill Lepore.

  7. Finally an answer to the question: Why do I start things I never finish? Hint: We underestimate how long things take. Solution: Take your estimate and multiply it by 3.

  8. Let’s do dog toys differently.

  9. Snacking on dried goldenberries at the suggestion of Sophia Roe on Radio Cherry Bombe. They’re the perfect combo of sour and sweet. Eat them as they are or use them as a topping for a bowl of oatmeal.

NewsletterTavaner Sullivan