A true philosopher has a selfishness of a peculiar kind. He earns a living, makes a contribution, meets responsibilities and then is free to enjoy. Like a red panda enjoys playing in the trees, so too a true philosopher enjoys a red panda-ing.
Humans are poetical animals. A wise human takes everything good-humouredly with a grain of salt (Santayana, A Brief History of My Opinion, 1930).
The Harptones were on the money in 1956 when they sang, “Life is but a dream“. Sensations are dreams. Perceptions are dreams developed. Sciences are dreams abstracted, controlled and measured.
The goal of happiness is realized when your life becomes an instrument for the enjoyment of being. When you become the Earth enjoying itself, contentment is yours: Bliss and bubbles. As a cardinal enjoys its red colouring, its song and swoop on a Saturday afternoon, so too, you enjoy your own crimson and clover.
A Special Kind of Selfishness
The selfishness espoused by this philosophy isn’t directed towards personal gain at the expense of others. It doesn’t race to the head of a line and cut in. This is not a selfishness that takes the last cookie in the cookie-jar without sharing.
That isn’t nice.
This is nice selfishness.
This is the selfishness of taking a deep breath in a landscape made for breathing. A satisfying breath does not begrudge another’s opportunity. You enjoy breathing and in so doing inspire others to do the same. Inhale deeply a fleeting world monetized, cauterized and dissected. Stake your claim in the air that remains. Take a slice of water. Enjoy what you can. Treasure where you are.
Enjoyment is simple. It’s as simple as breathing. Fresh air is underrated. You do not breath to help others. A bear eating salmon does the same. It’s a re-circulation. Animals eat and breath not to be mean. This is the selfishness of living.
This is the selfishness of a mother feeding her child and enjoying her child’s feeding. This selfishness wonders where have all the flowers gone? It’s selfishness laced with kindness.
This is the selfishness of a musician playing for others. It is the selfishness of a writer writing for the enjoyment of pleasing. It is the selfishness of a lover who enjoys her partner and in so doing, pleasures the other with her enjoyment.
It is a selfishness exemplified by unemployed lilies in a field. It is as the philosopher Mr. George Santayana said, “The gift of existence would be worthless unless existence was good and supported at least a possible happiness” (1905, p. 190).
To live a simple life is to enjoy. The good is the ideal. This ideal is the good of being who you are in your enjoyment of living. You don’t take what isn’t yours. You receive the enjoyment of living as others dream of being.
You set the stage. It’s your play. As worries cease, the “normal” feeling of life that you take for granted gives way to a more subtle feeling. What was ordinary becomes beautiful. Eyes widen. It’s as if Tchaikovsky’s child-like German Song patters within your heart. When you are peaceful in the world as yourself enjoying yourself a lovely feeling is felt. When a worry or criticism occurs there’s a shift. The feeling of beauty vanishes like the fragrance of a flower caught in a breeze.
It sounds like a contradiction. If you force yourself to enjoy, is it real? How do you know if you’re enjoying if you’re making it happen? Is forced enjoyment like an actor who laughs on stage according to a script? Everyone knows that’s not real laughter. Is forced enjoyment like that?
Forced enjoyment is nurtured. It’s a gentle reminder to enjoy your being here as you are where you are. The greatest thing in the world is enjoyment. It can be felt right this instant without anything but a body, some surroundings and the senses. It takes a thoughtfulness to appreciate the experience of being your body in these surroundings.
Nature floods each of us with a calm-breathing peace of life itself except we often don’t notice. A person can be happy simply by remembering odd divine moments. One need only chew the cud of old sweet memories.
What every living self most requires is a philosophy to tell it how to enjoy itself under the immediate circumstances and conditions at the moment it finds itself. To turn tedium into pleasure and dreariness into thrilling sensation requires a person to start from scratch and mingle the self (you) with the not-self (surroundings; not-you). Each of us is actually working magic as life itself works magic.