On responsibility and fun

From a close friend:

You’ve heard this before, but never took it seriously.In my twenties I never aspired to live beyond 30. Life beyond 30 has turned out exactly as I envisioned back then. I can honestly say I’ve not had one day of pure fun since turning 30. At 30 I accepted responsibility; pure fun thereafter is not possible. My epitaph will read “Died at 80 after enjoying his first 30 years and enduring his last 50.”

My reply:

Your concept of persistent fun is faulty, I think. Both of us had a full measure of fun back in the day, Piedmont I think was the high point. Our time at Georgia was OK but the ominous specter of it ending was obvious. Then it evolved from fun to discovery of where what we would be as functioning adults. There was never any possibility of fun as we knew it at Piedmont again, but the translation and evolution to fulfillment had the potential to make up for it. In Vietnam, we discovered our goals, we pursued them and we both were wildly successful beyond any expectation. You discovered the meaning of your life and you became exceptionally good at it. You had a stellar Marine experience, rising to a high rank and a phenomenal career. Worth of a book of your life. Then you parlayed it to a post-retirement career at Clemson commanding responsibility, respect and making the world a safer place. By a combination of dumb luck and an absolute refusal to quit despite impossible odds, I did the same. I ascended to a career that I never in my wildest dreams thought was possible. I have been all over the world speaking at medical meetings, writing papers and books, taking care of sick people competently and teaching youngsters the art. There simply isn’t anything left I haven’t done. It transcends “fun”. It’s “fulfillment” and is better than fun. It generates good for the world, growth and good for our psyches. It is/was impossible to sustain fun. Those that try die trying or go mad. Sooner or later “fun” MUST transition to something with a foundation that matters on different levels, careers, wives, mortgages, kids and responsibility. Maybe even Puerto Rican pussy on the side. Fun was a transition state we needed to have because it filled a need to be irresponsible early so we would have something to measure responsibility against when it became inevitable. That said, because we have expertly ordered our careers to insure plenty of funds to support us when we inevitably choose to stop working, the two of us have a RARE opportunity to sneak back into a part time fun mode under the radar. We can collect classic Porsches, classic Triumphs and we can see the world (again) as we like to do it. We can have many of the same things we loved in our youth and enjoy it just as much or more. So my advice is not to fret about fun. Both of us should be brim full of joy at how our lives turned out. The best deal we were ever going to get was fulfillment. We could look back at fun but you know most people can’t go back there. We dumb lucked out.

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