Always leave while you're still having fun.
That's it. Honestly, that's the mantra. So simple. And yet, so hard for some people to do.
I guess it began in the "early summer" of my lifespan, when I was venturing out at night with friends, winking at occasions and locations that skirted the edge of "trouble," and partaking of legal libations in said situations. I began to see that sticking around, late at night, usually resulted in my wishing I'd departed earlier. I had some friends, too, who never quite absorbed the truth of this realization—those people who never knew when to quit. Eventually, our different philosophies caused some tension at times... And then, we simply got older, and/or parted ways due to unrelated circumstances... and over-staying night-life events became a non-issue.
But I still fall back on that mantra. It's my own, it has served me well—and it's still true today. Although nowadays, we're not talking about clubs or parties. Now, it applies to family life: vacation, Kennywood, school events, picnics, canoe excursions. Leave while you're still having fun. Leave so that the good memories prevail, instead of being erased by memories of tempers flaring, or crowds surging, or sunburn and bug bites overtaking all else. Leave while you're still wide awake to drive home, before you overeat, or injure yourself pretending you're still youthful. Leave the park before you become nauseous from one more ride; depart the lovely beach before you have sufficient time to grow weary of sand in your undergarments. Be decisive, be disciplined, be a leader, and declare a finish time. Then, stick to it within reason.
Since I am the ruiner of fun in my home, this forthright task usually falls on me. Most of the unsavory tasks do. I'm at home more; it's inevitable. But I resignedly don my bleak crown.
Does this mantra work in all things? No, of course not. You can't apply it to marriage; there would be very few marriages remaining! You can't apply it to jobs, at least not on a daily basis. (However, I do believe that for those of us with choices, you can apply the mantra in a bigger way when you see an emerging pattern of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, or poor management in a workplace). You can't apply my fab mantra to family, either. You're sort of stuck there. I've learned the hard way, too, that you shouldn't apply it to church life within short spans. Some folks do, skipping from place to place each time they are bored or offended... only to find that other churches are full of flawed people, too. All of them.
I have found, though, that the melmantra makes sense for excursions of all kinds, and for hobbies and pastimes. My family grows weary of hearing it. I tire of repeating it. Yet, I think back on times when I did not apply it... And I press on.