I spent the past weekend in Grinnell, Iowa at my 25th reunion at Grinnell College. One of the highlights for me was the opportunity to thank and to acknowledge publically my Grinnell coaches, John Pfitsch (soccer), Ray Obermiller (diving), and Will and Evelyn Freeman (track and field) at an Athletics luncheon. These coaches taught me about the importance of putting the person first and set many important foundations for my ideas about Exhilarated Learning.

There seems to be something about a physical return to a past home that spurs memories to surface. What was most salient about being back in Grinnell was the strong sense of community. As a residential school of 1,200 students–many of whom were very far from home–we grew close to our classmates. Rekindling those connections and recreating the community had the departure feeling like a caesarian section. One of the joys of the classroom is creating a similar community where people can connect, support each other, and grow together.

One of my observations during the weekend was that as much as I am a spokesman for play and fun, my capacity for simply enjoying myself is limited. I am comfortable to make a trip to speak or to take a course, but I am challenged in “merely” a pleasure trip. If I can justify the journey by creating a business or learning purpose, I feel better.

As two of my former teammates persuaded me to join them for a golf scramble, I confronted my reluctance to do one more thing “just for fun.” As I have another trip planned for the end of this month (my first-ever “boys weekend”), the voice in my head that is feeling guilty about traveling without a clear financial or educational purpose is getting chatty.

I raise this here as I’m in the midst of the exploration of what my internal fun police is all about. How do you balance enjoying life with “making progress” on your various projects? As I’m more aware of this beast, my intention is to expand my fun container and to make way for more guilt-free joy. To paraphrase an old joke about wearing a tuxedo, if you are going to talk exhilarated, you should look exhilarated.

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