Seamus Muldoon, Himself
Copyright © 1997-2010
All Rights Reserved
Whee! This is fun!! What does that encompass?
The range of fun includes a low of – anything
that doesn’t hurt – to a high of sexual climax (amongst normal
people). Going to restaurants and bars; riding your motorcycle cross
country for thousands of miles a year; participating in sports and
attending sports and other entertainment events; kissing and touching
girls and boys (depending upon your inclinations); actual sexual
intimacy with girls and boys; and everything in between.
If that is fun, what is excitement? I believe
that is one of the most misunderstood distinctions in human
understanding. To me there are large and critical differences between
fun and excitement that are lost in conceptual sloppiness. Because of
the misunderstandings produced by that sloppiness, many aspects of
life that could better be dealt with are needlessly ruined and lost –
many of these are also critical life decisions that go awry in the
Of one thing I am certain. Excitement is really
quite different from fun – orders of magnitude different. The problem
people have with this distinction – which I myself had for many years
until the comprehension born of experience and age made me aware of it
– is that excitement doesn’t begin in life until much later in the
normal course. What occurs when we are younger that is unusual and
highly rewarding in one way or another is thought of as exciting, and
linguistically treated as being excitement, when it is in reality just
plain old garden variety fun.
I have come to believe that none of our
experiences of early years are anything more than fun. Even things
like jumping out of airplanes, while raising the surges of adrenaline,
are just extremes of fun. Danger can be fun in this context. Yet even
that becomes less exhilarating as it is more frequently done. The
trooper doesn’t get the same rush the 50th time he goes out the door
that he did in jump school.
What then is excitement, and how does it play out
its role in our lives? What should our expectations about excitement
be in order for us not to become very frustrated when the
extraordinary becomes more mundane? That is the answer that I believe
most people in interpersonal conflict need to appreciate. Sorrowfully,
the issue almost never arises until the malaise is already there and
relationships are about to dissolve, much to the detriment of others
who had no part in bringing about the circumstances of this day, this
moment, this sad situation.
“The excitement just isn’t there between us
anymore.” That’s the point at which this comprehension problem arises.
My point of departure in this discussion is that
there is often a substantial lapse between fun and excitement. Fun
becomes ordinary and expected. It is taken for granted. It isn’t new
anymore. Been there, done that. Now what? Make me happy. Show me the
fun. Isn’t that a tad puerile? Yes. But it is usually the way fun
stops being fun and the people looking for constant/continued fun
wonder what happened in their relationship.
I suggest you consider the proposition that the
difference between fun and excitement is that fun is exhilarating
whilst excitement is fulfilling. Things that exhilarate do so without
any requirement of post hoc reward. That includes riding your new bike
as a child all the way through getting sex, getting married and having
a baby. It is not until the fulfillment occurs that excitement can
begin, often a course of many years in between the event and the onset
of the realization that something fundamentally wonderful is occurring
that is not the product of something I just did a short while ago.
And so, the expression, “there’s no excitement
anymore in our relationship” really means that the fun and
exhilaration may be quite diminished. Anyone who thinks that fun
endures needs to rethink maturity. Fun is transient by definition. You
have to purchase excitement with dedication to the growth of the
potential that inheres in relationships.
You purchase relational excitement with devotion
and loyalty. To be sure, it has to be bilateral. Without both being
devoted and committed so that there is bilateral psychic consideration
flowing back and forth between you over substantial time, sufficient
to engender a belief in permanency (as opposed to a pledge of
permanency), excitement – agape – won’t be brought to fruition.
Excitement is the essence of agape. It is the product of sacrificial
love. Erotic love is fun. Agape/sacrificial love over substantial time
provides the excitement of fulfillment.
An excellent way to illustrate the principle is
that getting married is fun. You become a celebrity for a few weeks.
You take trips and attend frequent social events. You are celebrated
for a while. That’s just fun.
The decision to marry is a statement of intent to
make the investment requisite to eventual excitement.
Then comes the onset of the opportunity to
demonstrate that you are capable of making the psychic investment that
may one day, if you are also lucky, begin to produce excitement, the
return on your great investment.
The decision to have children is just a beginning
in the process of making that investment. Providing a stable,
supportive, loving/ nurturing family over the time of the growth of
your children is part of that investment. The excitement only comes
when the child develops into an accomplisher of things worthwhile due
to your contribution of all the psychic gifts you bestowed upon it
coupled with its genetic talents and resources.
The child earns a place of recognition based upon
superior performance – high school, college, professional school,
entering upon its own life union. Your fortunate ability to be there
and participate in the successes of your children is when the
excitement starts. The dividends of your years of psychic investment
in your marriage (when possible) and in your children represent the
future value that you may some day realize by being present at its
If you are unable to make this distinction, and
to accept the devotion you receive from your life partner and the hope
of future reward as just consideration for your sacrifice over time,
then your excitement, when/if it comes will be greatly diminished. You
can’t share real excitement except with the person whose participation
with you over the years made the excitement a real potential. If you
are not together when it happens in your life, you will only know a
diminished reward. You may find temporal happiness elsewhere. Some do
and most do not. But the excitement that fundamentally thrills beyond
any present tense comprehension won’t be in your picture. This I know,
and greatly regret.
I wouldn’t trade what I have now. I have now what
I hoped to have then, but didn’t.