It’s common for a waiter to say, “Enjoy,” after he sets a plate of food in front of a customer. If you check into a hotel, the clerk will say, “Enjoy your stay,” and when you hand in your ticket at a theatre, the ticket-taker will say, “Enjoy the movie.” It’s as common for people in the hospitality industry to say enjoy as it is for them to smile, but have you ever thought of this sentence fragment as your call to action?
The next time someone says, “enjoy” to you: Do it. So what if the soup is tepid and watery? Some people don’t get soup. Find pleasure, not fault. Enjoy. Waiters who say enjoy hope enjoyment happens. It’s their wish. Jobs (and gratuities) depend on it. You can make wishes come true.
Enjoyment is what this philosophy is about. This isn’t esoteric or hard to understand. This is practical. This is the spirit of living. The idea is for you to work out a practical philosophy of your own that’s applicable to ordinary life. Through various mental, emotional and aesthetic tricks (like hearing the word enjoy as your call to action), you can wrestle with life and grow less miserable as month follows month and year to year.
Whether a meal meets your expectations or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s a matter of chance, but even the worst meal can be stellar if you have no harsh criticisms and can see the humour in blue soup. It’s like what Forrest Gump’s mother said about life being a box of chocolates, “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
To enjoy – really, really enjoy – keep it simple. Be kind. Enjoy humility. All creatures (including you) need food energy from the sun. Eating is to live and living is to enjoy living. To feel the creative magic of humility, don’t use grandiose terms like “cosmos” and “universe.” Focus on the details right in front of you. Forget infinity. It’s too big. Focus on the finite.
All of this is of course unsolicited advice and nobody likes that. The boy who snaps an elastic band until it thwacks him in the eye despite his mother’s nagging him to stop doesn’t appreciate it when his father says, “See. You were told it would snap. Now look at you. You have one eye.”
The trouble with advice is that sometimes it comes from people who stink of sanctimoniousness. That’s partly why teenagers ignore their parents’ advice. Parents think they’re superior. It’s why parents ignore the advice of their parents. It’s why bosses are maligned and why traffic safety rules are flouted.
Watch people who enjoy themselves unwisely. Watch a guy racing carelessly around on his jet ski until he runs into the side of another guy who is also racing carelessly around on his jet ski. It’s all fun and games until someone gets killed.
The common assumption is that enjoyment is selfish, but real enjoyment isn’t. It’s a celebration. It says to death, “See you later.”
In his novel In Search of Lost Time, Volume II: Within a Budding Grove published in 1919, Marcel Proust wrote, “We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, and effort which no one can spare us.” The same can be said for enjoyment. Substitute the word wisdom with enjoyment and here’s what you get: “We are not provided with enjoyment, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, and effort which no one can spare us.”
Go into the wilderness of experience.