I have this game I like to play.
It’s called the what do you like to do? game. For the person asking the question the game is simple, and you only need one other person to play the game, unless you want to turn the question on yourself, which I suppose is equally acceptable.
The game has a tendency to smack people right between the eyes. As soon as the question is asked, the stalling begins.
A chuckle, an evasive glance to the side, a pensive look up into one’s thought space, a long drawn out ummm, or the ever desperate request to repeat the question.
Sometimes you’ll hear that’s a good question, and people only say that when they need more time to think of an answer. I remember using I just need to go to the bathroom for exactly the same reason.
I always feel that the answer is never as forthcoming as it should be.
The color of the sky?
What you like to do?
“Laugh, look evasively away, ask you to repeat the question, and then escape to the bathroom.”
I suppose the stalling for some people is because they’re scrolling back in their memories to recall the last time they felt happy, at least not miserable.
“Well, I was vaguely content yesterday evening, because I was no longer at work, I was with my family, I had gorged on fries and a double burger, a good sitcom was on the TV, and it was soon time to go to bed.”
“I was very happy to finish paying this month’s bills. I can still feel the next month looming, but for now it’s out of thought-distance.”
“Yes! Last night I had sex, and it was great! Well, it was okay. This happened, and I wish they’d have done this instead. Is it okay to talk during sex? Maybe I’ll practice it on my own first. What was the question?”
Trawling the memory banks is fine, but shouldn’t we have a kind of self-awareness, of hobbies, or at the very least a list of things that we attempt to do when not at work?
Now people are thinking back to their college days.
“I like to read. And travel. I used to get a kick out of dating people from different cultures. I used to like to think that there wasn’t a single job on Earth that I couldn’t train myself to do, or a single place I couldn’t go to and couldn’t learn to live and be happy there. I used to like to think that I could blend right in, body and mind.”
These dreams of happiness, backed up by some success in the field, used to motivate and drive people.
What do you like to do?
“Not reminisce on the days when anything was possible.”
Sometimes you’ll get a heartfelt answer, coupled with dilated pupils and glowing cheeks.
What do you like to do?
“I like to spend time with my kids. Watching them grow and flourish. They depend on me, and I am constantly challenged to be everything they need me to be. I revel in this, and I love being there for them.”
This is one of two of the best possible answers, especially if they answer quickly. The other best answer is an amalgam of a list of things that the person likes to do, backed up with reasons or thoughts as to why the person likes to do them. The very thought of the activity makes them genuinely happy. Nothing makes me happier than to see other people happy about something, unless I’m at the end of their chainsaw.
But for others, there is no answer, and nobody wants to admit that they do not know what makes them happy. Life just seems to be uncomfortable until moments of pain relief or relaxation, or they are simply too tired to think about what makes them happy. Thinking is hard work.
I don’t think, therefore I am not.
Not interested in your questions.
For these people, the question is far too close to ‘are you happy?’, which in my opinion is a much sharper knife. And like being stabbed by a knife, the following moment is of grandiose shock, before ripples of profound uncertainty jeopardize to tear through your sense of security and future. When you ask these people what they like to do, you’re ripping open a hole in their mind, and forcing them to see something in it.
Look at yourself and tell me that you’re happy!
Indeed, a well-placed ‘Are you happy?’ can almost kill some people.
I sometimes wonder, when asking questions to justify one’s behavior, if answers are never forthcoming because we simply just like to do, and just doing behavior cannot be accepted as an answer, because it seems to negate purpose. When you ask somebody what they like to do, there are layers upon layers of analyses that have to take place.
What do you like to do?
“Oh, how tedious and jejune! We don’t have the time to explore the layers upon layers of analyses that have to take place to arrive at a near satisfactory answer, and even if we did, I don’t like you enough to do so.”
You could’ve just said, “I like to do.”
But like all games, thoughts of this one have to come to an end. I could answer the telephone, but I am now distracted by the idea that the Duke of China has a hemorrhoid.