While others wax eloquently on philosophy or sociology, E. O. Harbin got right to the important part of life and offered us “The Fun Encyclopedia,” a very helpful encyclopedia of what really matters: fun. In Harbin’s introduction, there is a philosophical statement: “It is only partially true that the good things in life are free.”  He reveals that, “The good things in life must be earned.”  Or as I remember the childhood axiom, “Work before play.”

It is better to find a reward after a task is done. If we play first we may not feel like getting to the things that must be done. In my case, I try to finish the lawn mowing and then reward myself with something more fun like taking out the trash or cleaning the gutters.

Harbin also salutes the many “thousands of recreational leaders who influenced his ideas on recreation.” I think it is cool to live in a country that is doing so well, we can afford to have experts teach us to enjoy recreation.   

A very good philosophy was presented by Mary Poppins who famously sang, “in everything that must be done, there is an element of fun.” So she showed children how to find fun in cleaning a room or climbing up on the roof to clean chimneys.  I find it fun to watch my child clean the chimney. 

If we take that Mary Poppins attitude of finding fun in every task, we will experience much more joy in our lives. For example, it can be fun to turn washing dishes into a bubble factory. Every year, at least once, I gather a big pile of leaves and jump in them just for the fun of it. It is fun to see the look on the dog’s face, then she sees the fun and jumps in too.

“The Fun Encyclopedia” also covers hobbies.  Harbin shares how to find fun with crafts, paper folding, wood carving, puppets, skits and even magic tricks. Can we make a fun hobby out of vacuuming or washing windows?  One of my friends loves to vacuum in character, as if she is Lucy Ball or another time as the Disney character Goofy.  She turns the task into play time.   

It really can be fun to cook and find enjoyment in the “work” of assembling items into a meal. I used to work as a chef, and now it is very therapeutic and fun to prepare most of the meals in our home.  

A pastor recently commented during a sermon how much fun it was to play for hours with a very active toddler granddaughter and even more precious fun when she fell asleep on his chest as he sat in a big chair. 

“The Fun Encyclopedia” includes some wonderful activities such as dodge ball, ball tag and other activities involve throwing something at a younger sibling.

Now days I find that fun comes from sharing or giving.  A friend dealing with chemotherapy was having difficulty with eating so I brought a couple of those super sweet peaches.  He devoured them and said he never had peaches like those.  My joy was quadrupled when a few days later, I showed up with a crate of peaches.  It is fun to see smiles.  It is fun to bring joy to others.  

Find a way to bring some fun into someone’s life. Maybe a children’s book or baked treats for a neighbor family.  Maybe a bunch of flowers for an elderly person.  There is a very famous old and wise book that includes the statement, (my take) “it is fun-er to give, than to receive.”  Yes, much more fun!   

Norm Barnhart is a comic entertainer from the Forest Lake area.  He can be found at his website CleanComedyGuys.com 

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