When I was a young lad my dad took me to a Kansas City Royals baseball game. Now the question is, “Was this an enjoyable experience?” Well, let’s think about this for a moment. It would be extraordinarily difficult for a child to enjoy a major league ballgame if he was expected to navigate the environment on his own. Did I have the money to purchase a ticket to the game? No. If I had the money, would I know how to go about acquiring a ticket? No. If, somehow, I had the ticket – would I be able to get myself to Kaufman Stadium? No. If, somehow, I wound-up at the ballpark, would I feel confident in my ability to locate my section, row, and seat? No. If I needed to use the bathroom, could I find my way to the bathroom and then back to the correct section, row, and seat? No. What if I got hungry or thirsty, did I have any money to purchase refreshments? No. What if every fan’s dream came true for me, and a foul ball was hit to my precise location, could I successfully catch the ball as opposed to being clobbered by it? No. What if I had particular questions about the players, or the rules of the game, could I answer my own inquiries? No. You get the idea. My ability to enjoy this adventure was entirely contingent on accepting my limitations and enthusiastically embracing the presence and provision of my father. An attitude of autonomy poisons a person’s capacity for joy. Joy loves limits.
In 2016 I found myself in the doldrums of an 8-hour-layover in Boston. I had the opportunity to confine myself to a quaint $40 lounge (with food, drink, comfortable chairs, a quiet context, and clean bathrooms) in the terminal, but I turned down this option in favor of the ‘limitless’ alternative available to me in the “entire” airport. In dismissing the “expensive” and “stifling” lounge I unwittingly opted to relegate myself to the ‘limitless’ world of dirty bathrooms, $60 dollars worth of food and drink, a bustling and obnoxious environment, and uncomfortable chairs. I told myself that the $40 price-tage on the lounge was sumptuous and wasteful …but $60 later I was regretting my “conservative” assessment. The lounge was – in all ways – the wiser investment, and to have paid the $40 and entered the limits and boundaries of the lounge would’ve been consistent with liberty, peace, and joy. I lived with the regret of that missed opportunity for two years. Then, in 2018, I found myself interned in the München airport for 6 hours, and I was determined to find a limited lounge area and consign myself to captivity as quickly as possible! 29 euros later I was in, and it was the most ENJOYABLE airport experience I’ve every had! How is this possible you ask? …Joy loves limits.