Friday, July 6, 2012

You Know You're Having Fun, Right?

Greetings from ''ze Vaterland!'' I'm here in Rottweil, Germany (indeed the home of the Rottweiler dog) leading a school exchange group for four weeks, which always makes for a great adventure, and also leads to a sometimes unpredictable schedule and compromised exercise routine. The running has been spotty at best, but I've been on the move since I got here and can honestly say that when it comes to walking and hiking, I'm super fit. I've had great ''feet time'' so far, especially with a week-long excursion to Munich last week that was packed full of on-the-go adventure. I am, however, becoming concerned about my running fitness, seeing as I've gained 5 pounds, mostly in the middle from all the bread, cheese, and ice cream I've consumed, and haven't been able to run due to another foot injury, this time while playing soccer in my Merrell barefoot shoes with a group of competitive German ''ballers'' in cleats and full soccer garb. It was a ton of fun, but I do regret playing as long as I did after getting stepped on with cleats, which brings me to the point of this entry.

That afternoon of soccer and the following consequences reminded me of my climbing trip in the Black Hills at the end of May, and a concept that was explained to us by friends and fellow climbing couple Kate and Jason. At first it was simply a phrase that they used with each other after completing a climb or an activity, said quickly and almost under their breath; ''Type 2.'' After inquiring, they outlined their typology of fun, which became one of the main inside jokes of the trip. Without further ado, here are the two types of fun:

Type I Fun - This is the typical definition we use for fun, when you can say either during the activity or shortly after that it was a blast, and that you'd do it again in a heartbeat. It might be a cool party, a waterslide, or simply catching up with old friends. The possibilities are endless, but you know that it's fun from the start and it continues to be fun while you're doing it.

Type II Fun - Whereby Type I Fun is obvious, Type II can be more elusive, and the perception of it may change over time. This is an activity that might be scary, stressful, or harrowing at the time, but once completed and after some contemplation, the person realizes how cool it was and therefore labels the adventure as fun. A great example of this would be the drive back to our campsite at Sylvan Lake from Blue Bell Lodge on an extremely foggy night during our aforementioned climbing trip. Having missed the turn to get back on the highway, we ended up driving the wildlife loop through Custer State Park, which is an incredibly winding, hilly, narrow road through the park, where no light from any town or city invades, nor are there any street lights. Visibility was no more than 15 feet in front of the car, which made the drive incredibly slow and extremely eery. Even at 20mph, coming up over a hill felt as if we were launching up into nothingness, and combined with the sudden unseen curves in the road, it felt much like this. Although it was scary at the time (especially for me since I was driving), it made for a fun adventure once we arrived safely at camp, thus Type II.

After contemplating the kicken as my German colleague refers to it, the soccer itself was a ton of fun, but the injury was not, and it continues to cause me trouble. It was certainly Type I, but the consequences require a subcategory, Type Ib - immediate fun with negative consequences. This is common for me, and I would imagine for many competitive people, who go all out during an activity and pay for it the next day or for an extended period thereafter with soreness or injury. This might also include people who love to party hard, and wake up to a hangover the next morning feeling like death warmed over (which is something I've never understood). It's the fun that causes you to contemplate if it was worth it or not. For me, I'm on the fence with that soccer game. It was definitely fun to play again, especially in Germany with people who love, understand, and play the game well, but now that I don't trust my foot on long runs, my training - and subsequent fun - has been compromised, and I'm not sure if it was worth it.

In closing, it should also be mentioned that the best adventures in life are often Type II Fun. Referring back to end of this post from last April in which I defined what an adventure is in my mind, most of what makes an adventure are things that are scary or unknown, and only after conquering fears and the unknown do we recognize how much fun it is. To me, this is the ultimate in fun, as it has more personal meaning and a lasting impact on both psyche and memory. As final food-for-thought, I propose that adventure athletes have the most fun in life, combining positive risk-taking with the huge benefits of physical activity, thus combining the joy of accomplishment, a healthy lifestyle, and the outcome of Type II Fun.

Tip O' The Day 
Should you find yourself in a potential Type II Fun setting with friends, you might consider breaking the immediate tension with some humor from the animal kingdom as we did. Having two veterinarians on the trip, we weren't without our share of animal facts, and this one always provided a laugh when well-timed, on the crux of a hard climb, for example. Apparently, when alpaca get nervous, they hum. If there are many about, it becomes a sort of call-and-response to alert each other. Here's an example to help you out. Use wisely and enjoy!

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