- March 12, 2012
- Posted by
At a certain point in every trail season we all end up asking ourselves: Am I having fun right now? I’d like to think that every step I take with an overloaded pack and tools to boot brings me nothing but the purest form of happiness. I’d like to think that working in cold rain with the wind blowing at my back is the example I would use when asked to describe an outrageously fun activity. I’d like to think that every moment spent on the trail with my crewmates is more exciting than the one before it, but I have to be honest with myself now. There have been times where I had to take a step back and really ask myself out on hitch what is fun and am I having it at this moment?
The subject of fun came up again at the office during leadership training because, quite frankly, trail work isn’t going to blow your mind 24/7. The day will come, although less often than you think, when your crew just isn’t into the work as much as usual. It might be the weather. It might be fatigue. It might even be the type of project your working on. At moments of deterred enthusiasm I like to share a little something I learned from an instructor I had while taking a NOLS course in Wyoming, There are two types of fun. He liked to call them “type A fun” and “type B fun.”
Now I wish I could explain this to you in person because it really makes more sense when you get to see me gesticulating exuberantly and using different tones in my voice. Alas you are just going to have to make do with this text and imagine the appropriate hand gestures and all. So type A fun is when you know you are having fun while you are having fun…(I know that sounds kind of obvious but hold your horses it makes more sense in a second). An example of type A fun in the trail working world might include activities like felling a tree, the first five minutes of using loppers, or playing games with your crewmates in the evenings.
Type B fun is when you don’t feel like you are having fun while you are doing something but then later on, especially when you tell the story to other people, you realize you had a lot of fun. An example of type B might be like the time my crew and I experienced the sudden and unexpected failure of three of three saws at almost the exact same moment while brushing a trail in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. I clearly remember at the time not being amused and hearing only frustration in my voice. It was not my favorite moment out on the trail. I mean, let’s face it- nothing was going right. I was not getting anything done and the chainsaws where breaking- again. Then the most amazing thing happened. Every time I repeated the story to someone else I got more and more excited to tell it. My voice lost all trace of irritation and quite honestly people listening to me must have been confused about why I sounded so elated that all the equipment was breaking. All the sudden I was associating all these exasperated but pleased feelings with that memory because it was a situation my crew overcame. That memory transformed into just another facet of a job I can honestly say I love, and it was fun. It was fun to get them fixed and charge ahead. It was fun staring at the saws and postulating their untimely temper tantrums. When I think back I remember only a satisfying day.
That is type B fun for you, the kind that just sneaks up and punches all that self-righteous anger right out of you. Trust me you have had type B moments even if you have not thought about them in that way. The next time you find yourself wondering if you are actually having any fun with the work perhaps you should amend the question to what kind of fun am I having right now? Let’s face it, not every minute of every day on the trail is going to be full of type A fun but, if you let them, those type B moments can serve as happy memories too.
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