What (Sober) People Can Learn from Fling

This last weekend, as most of you know, was Spring Fling. With a no-name for the legendary Spring Fling concert header and the threat of increasing police crackdowns on loud music, drinking, and just about everything else, no one expected much out of Fling. And some were proven right.

Day one of Fling was met with rainy, cold weather, and the concert that night wasn’t spared. As the headliner (who no one was excited about anyway) was about to set up on stage, the rain began to fall in sheets. Most people went home. Parties were shut down and people even received community service for underage drinking. While I wasn’t personally involved, the mood around campus definitely wasn’t as upbeat, carefree, or energetic as it had been in past Flings.

Day two was better. The sun came out and the quadrangle came alive with music and people. But the slightly sour mood of a less-than-satisfactory Fling hung over everyone.

I remember waking up on Friday and seeing the rain and feeling really disappointed. Fling was supposed to be an essential Penn experience, and here it was, being ruined by the rain. We had all looked forward to Fling weekend as a chance to have fun and let loose, and something beyond our control had managed to spoil it, at least partly. I went into Fling with a somewhat sour disposition.

As the rain continued and the day rolled on, I found that even though the rain had dampened the official Fling activities, my friends and I were still managing to have a great time. We spent Friday chatting and spending time indoors, and enjoyed the concert up until it started raining, when we ran back to our room freezing but laughing and ordered pizza.

Saturday was just as fun, if not more so. Looking back on Fling weekend, I had a great time.

What I realize, however, is that it wasn’t Fling itself that was fun. Fling wasn’t that great. I didn’t particularly love the music or the assortment of fried foods or the other activities. I certainly didn’t enjoy the rain.

What made Fling great is what we made of it.

Sometimes, I know I’m guilty of putting my fun (or lack thereof) in the hands of circumstance. It’s easy to say, for example, “That party wasn’t any fun. No one really tried to chat with me,” when I could have easily walked across the room and struck up a conversation with someone. As a product of instant gratification culture, it’s almost like I expect someone to find something fun and serve it up on a platter to me. And when I don’t find it right away, I decide there was no fun to be had at all.

Even when I look back on Fling next year, I know I’m going to remember nothing about the Fling itself, nothing about what I was “served.” I won’t probably remember who the main artist was that performed or what I ate (right now I remember, because I’m still recovering from deep-fried oreo overload), but I will remember the fun I made myself.

Spring Fling this last weekend reminded me that whether or not we enjoy life is about more than circumstance. Enjoying oneself is an active process, not something we get to just sit back and allow to happen to us. If we want to get the most out of life, we have to go out and seize it ourselves. Some moments of life are sunny, warm, and pleasant. Others are rainy, cold, and your only entertainment is a forty-year-old guy who lives in his parents’ basement and plays music on his laptop (gee, I must be referring to the Fling concert).

Concert ticket for Fling weekend: $35.00. Having fun despite rain, grumpiness, and spending $35.00 on a not-so-great concert: priceless.

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