My three boys love their portable video games. They hoot and holler with joy as their game characters overcome an obstacle or foe.
My wife finds no joy in these games. She thinks they are just a waste of time. Once the thirty minute time allowance for these games is used up, she reminds the kids, in a rather firm tone of voice, to do their homework or to take a bath for bedtime.
Kids express their feelings rather honestly too. They moan and groan. But, there is no way that these rowdy little characters can overcome this obstacle. The mother is an all mighty character.
I, like all fathers, was a little boy once upon a time. I wasted lots and lots of time on similar games and other mischief. Why? Because it was fun.
So there is a little pang in my heart. I remember all too well, just when things were getting to be fun, my mother would tell me to behave and be proper. My boys must be feeling the same way.
As I grew up, I was engrained with a guilty conscious that having fun is something that is irresponsible or something you are allowed only when there is some spare time away from your responsibilities.
One day, I was studying Eiichi Shibusawa's lectures on the Analects of Confucius. Not exactly something I would of thought as “having fun” when I was a boy. Nevertheless, as a “grown-up,” improving your awareness about the moral way of life seems like a proper thing to do.
To my delight, I found the following excerpt:
The Master said, “They who have knowledge are not equal to those who feel attraction. They who feel attraction are not equal to those who have the joy.”
Eiichi interpreted this teaching in the following manner:
- In order to take action, one needs knowledge. Taking action without knowledge is reckless and foolish. Yet, having knowledge does not necessarily lead to action.
- If feels attraction, however, then one will likely reach out, leading to some action. So, feeling attraction for something is more important than simply having knowledge about something. Yet, if one runs into an obstacle, he may throw up his hands and say “I don't feel the attraction anymore.”
- But, if there was joy in what he is doing, then the wall is not an obstacle. He will climb over it, or perhaps he may dig below it. Why? Because it is fun.
So, having fun is not an act of irresponsibility after all. According to wisdom of mankind that has spanned over 2500 years, having the joy in one's heart is a most vital motivation factor for all people, kids as well as adults, to keep on striving towards a new day.