On art, and fun, and saving your life

This Saturday was my first watercolor class ever, at the Brooklyn Museum.  I thought I knew my way around watercolor, but the more I learn, the more I learn that I don't know what I'm doing.  And really, I just want an excuse to paint for a couple of hours a week. It's a ten-session course, and I get to take it with my dad. Not to mention a lively assortment of art nerds. I say that without judgment, as I am one of them. These are my people. You shall know us by the graphite smudges on our cheeks.


One of my class paintings. Oh, but I have a lot to learn.

I cannot begin to tell you how fun this class was. It was stupid fun. I can't explain it. We didn't do anything ground-breaking. But by the end of the class I was giddy. I get such joy from this, it's embarrassing. Why is it embarrassing, you ask? That is an excellent question, and one I should bring up with my imaginary therapist.

It's been too easy, over the past few weeks, to set this new habit of mine aside. Life gets tiring and complicated and by the end of the day I'd rather watch the Daily Show than haul out my paints or find something to sketch. (The other day I sketched Jon Stewart. Multitasking!) I have to push myself, but I'm so much happier when I do it than when I don't.

As I wrote in my latest blog post over at Babble, I started painting after my psychiatrist suggested I figure out what "fun" meant, for me.


During one of my sessions with my psychiatrist, most of which were spent with my head deep in the tissue box, he asked me what I did for fun.


“Faaaahn?” I said.


“Fun,” he said.


“What is this ‘faaahrn’?” I said.


It seemed like there was a trick to his question, like my source of fun would have to be esoteric and challenging, something that hadn't occurred to me before. Like samba lessons, or advanced magic. I considered art, and disregarded it at first because it was--well, not easy, but natural. I've been drawing and painting my whole life. It seemed like cheating. Like I was getting away with something. As if fun needed to be hard. I am a slow learner, folks.

I want everyone else to have something like this. Especially those of us dealing with depression--we who tend to focus more on feeling okay, on avoiding pain, than seeking out joy. If you could do anything that's pure fun, what would you do? Bonus points if it's embarrassing. I suspect you're all secret clog dancers.