My wife and I are huge fans of Futurama. There’s an episode where all the robots in the world rebel (and it turns out everything is a robot in the 31st century), and humans are reduced to living like savages. Fry struggles to open a can with an old-fashioned can-opener, and after snapping it open with his claw, Zoidberg is elated for the opportunity to pitch in. While his ragged companions huddle wretchedly around a campfire, he declares, “I’m having a wonderful time!”
Not too long ago, this phrase snuck into our conversations with more and more regularity. I think it really picked up on a recent vacation we took to New Zealand. Going to New Zealand is definitely at the top of the list for the Most Exciting Things my wife and I can think of, and so for months our anticipation grew. By the time we actually went to the airport, it was bubbling over.
The problem with going to a fabulously remote place like New Zealand is getting there. We had an obnoxiously long and boring layover in San Francisco (and no, SFO the airport is not nearly as nice to visit as San Francisco the city; it’s all ads for Enterprise Cloud Technology and bathrooms that constantly bitch at you for using too much water), and then a painfully long flight across the Pacific Ocean. But we were going to New Zealand, which was a Most Exciting Thing. So during those many moments of waiting to get from Portland, OR to Auckland, NZ, we’d be immobile but buzzing, and in the silence turn to one another and declare, “I’m having a wonderful time!”
Once we arrived, we really did have a fantastic time. It’s an amazing country, with so much to do and eat and drink and so many awesome people to meet and so many mind-blowing things to see. But travel being travel, there were still moments of stress (e.g. I got a speeding ticket outside of Auckland within an hour of renting the car), but we were having an adventure, and we were together, and we knew any stress would pass quickly once we got things sorted out and the Fun would be back. We developed a habit of reminding each other during those stressful moments, “I’m having a wonderful time!”
After two weeks, we came back home. Post-vacation depression came, followed quickly by anxiety about my upcoming book release and work-related stress (my wife and I both work full time for startups). And yet, I’ve noticed that the Zoidberg quote keeps finding its way into our everyday lives. It’s this perfect little mantra that communicates: “This isn’t ideal, but I’m still happy.” It’s the End of the World, and Zoidberg is happy because he’s there with his friends.
Of course, we say it when we really mean it too – like when we’re going out to the movies together or spending time at the Portland Japanese Garden or working on the yard – then we get to declare our mantra in earnest. Good or bad, the commonality always remains: we’re doing this together, and in the big picture, we couldn’t be happier.
So there it is. I’m working a full time job (only 40 hours a week, if I’m very, very lucky), and my dog is sick, and I haven’t done my taxes yet, and I have a book release coming out in less than a month, and I’m kind of freaking out. But you know what? I’m having a wonderful time!