Congeniality, Ideal Goodness and Enjoyment

Saab2Two guys are driving in a vintage car in Portland, Oregon. The driver says to the passenger, “I think you’re supposed to have fun in life.” “I’m right with you,” says the passenger shaking his head from side to side. “Great,” says the driver. “Right with you,” repeats the passenger.

A_small_cup_of_coffeeThey rattle on. “I’m really enjoying this car. Are you?” “I love it,” says the passenger.

As far-fetched as it sounds, this conversation happened. The guys are Jerry Seinfeld and Fred Armisen. The show is Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

not funIt’s not hard to imagine two congenial friends like this having fun together, but what about someone who doesn’t have fun? What then?

Someone enters the words, “no enjoyment out of life” as a search term and finds this blog. Does it help or is it like John Steinbeck said in 1961, “No one wants advice, only corroboration?”

You can set the stage for enjoyment like they do in Comedians in Cars, but whether you get it or not, depends.

There’s a knack to it.

A banker.

Ask people: “What do you do if you have no enjoyment?” From a banker you get a loan. From a stoic you get, “Do what you can, not what you can’t.” From a positive psychologist you get, “Think positive!” (and take your damn anti-depressants!).

big joe turnerFrom a bartender you get a drink. From a hedonist you get hedonism. From a believer you get belief. From a radical you get radicalized. From Big Joe Turner you get Shake, Rattle and Roll.

What you get depends on who’s giving it. Things like receptivity (What Do You Enjoy?), determination (The First Step), awareness (Who am I?) and planning (Rules of Enjoyment) help, but there’s more to it.

lamborginiIt’s like what Chris Rock said in Comedians in Cars when Jerry asked him what he thought of a car. Chris Rock said, “I like you Jerry… everything is about the company … If we were in a cab, we would probably be having the same exact conversation.”

Someone who gets no enjoyment probably won’t get it from lighthearted banter and a Lamborghini. You need an ideal.

goodnessLife is justified by its fruits. Whether you eat or drink, do so for the sake of life, of enjoyment and the ideal of goodness. What is goodness? You know it when you see it. A good is a natural delight in the the senses, in affections, and in the mind. A vision of heaven on earth is ideal goodness.

weedsThat the end of life is death may sound sad, but what other end could anything have? At the end of a party you go to bed. At the end of a dance, you sit down. At the end of the day, you go home. After tea, you wash your cup.

Transitoriness is essential. Existence is change.

Things get sad with sentimentality. When we imagine that an end is untimely, we get sad. The trick is to live in the presence of ideal goodness. It’s all around. You die, but goodness doesn’t.

The world can be dangerous. We take shelter in human constructions, but the next storm, earthquake, or bomb can take it down. Despite the odds of catastrophe, pain and suffering, challenge the assumptions you have of a universe of desires and come to self-knowledge. You get it when you don’t. It’s a new order. The decision is yours.


The vision you’re having right now is your life. Here. Now. Reading this silly little blog, you can be completely aware of yourself in the place you are. Seeing with these eyes. The voice you hear is your own.

Marcus Aurelius as he looked in 151 AD.

If you are catastrophe free, count yourself glad. If not, as the stoic said, “You win. You lose.” Or, as Marcus Aurelius said when he stubbed his toe on a throne, “Misfortune nobly born is good fortune” (Meditations).

Forge on. Become goodness incarnate. Goodness shows as humility, kindness and a lack of self-centredness. Empathize! Enjoy updowns.

Henry Thoreau as he looked in 1861.

Breathe a silent sigh. As an animal with a mind, filled with folly, happiness and sorrow, a stupid dreaming creature with odd perspectives in the midst of a vast natural world, quietly observe the place you find yourself in and look for harmonies. Imagine yourself as the earth seeing itself seeing itself.

Ideal goodness is the enjoyment that emerges when you connect or as Henry Thoreau said to himself in the woods after leaving the pencil factory, “Goodness is the only investment that never fails” (Walden, 1854).

summerSo, what do you do? Live the ideal of good. Live in the imagination of ultimate things and like Mother said, “Go outside! Be good!” Enjoy the music of strawberries in the summertime (even if they’re in your mind).

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A Philosopher of Enjoyment.

5 thoughts on “Congeniality, Ideal Goodness and Enjoyment”

  1. Hi R!

    I’ll give you my interpretation and then, if you feel like it, tell me what you think. It’s poetical. Your interpretation could be different. “Life is justified by its fruits” goes to the heart of this post which is about looking beyond the immediate to ideals, but let me backtrack…

    I rode my bike to work through the park this morning. I saw flowers beneath a statue of Queen Elizabeth on a horse. I saw a homeless guy who lives amongst the trees enjoying a bun on a bench (he had locked eyes on those of the queen). I saw joggers jogging and seniors senioring with canes by a fountain. As I coasted along, I pondered: How can I put this without looking like an idiot? How is life justified by its fruits? Do I even know what I meant?

    I guess it’s really just a fancy way of saying that life is life or that “life is its own reward.” The only reason (or justification) for life is to live and to continue that process (with fruits). Life lives to live to live on (like circular reasoning). Death comes to the individual (as is natural) but life (hopefully and justifiably) continues.

    Life is like goodness. Goodness is one of its fruits. You are a good man. You will die, but you are sort of immortal in that the goodness that you lived (your fruits) continue in another (your child or someone in whom your goodness rubbed). Goodness is an ultimate thing – the best achievable or imaginable thing.

    For someone who isn’t enjoying life, maybe an ideal (like goodness) can get them through it. Maybe someone can ignore the immediate discomfort and see the big picture of why we’re here at all. Another way to look at it is to think of enjoyment as one of life’s fruits (the word fruit is derived from the word enjoy).

    The people in the park live to live and by living, my contention is, they (we) enjoy the trip – good, bad and ugly. Enjoyment as a fruit. It’s your decision. You decide to enjoy. It’s like what Jerry Seinfeld said, “I think you’re supposed to have fun in life” but my life might not be as fun as Jerry’s. My life is different. I’m obscure. Life can be rough but even in its roughness there is bliss. Most wise people have suffered.

    The idea for “life being justified by its fruits” comes from something I read in an analysis written by Professor Irwin Edwin in 1936 about Santayana’s book Life of Reason. I should have attributed Irwin and Santayana for the idea, but I don’t want the Philosophy of Enjoyment to be academic. I’m a synthesizer for our little group of philosophers.

    I’ve not used the word spirituality (on purpose), but that’s what Irwin and Santayana are talking about – spirituality not in a supernatural sense, but spirituality in the sense of thoughtfulness. Irwin said of this idea, “…the spiritual man lives as much as may be in practise, and always in imagination, among ultimate things” (p. xxx, Introductory Essay). To him, those ultimate things are the fruits that justify life. Ultimate things are ideas that last, like goodness, or something like Plato’s forms.

    Santayana wrote, “The spiritual man needs, therefore, something more than a a cultivated sympathy with the brighter scintillation of things” (p. 193, Reason and Religion). To me that means seeing beyond the opinion of appearances to enjoy (a brighter scintillation!). A fruit is good! (at least, for me)

    It could be said in the opposite, “Death is justified (legitimate reason) by its poison,” but I’ll have to think about that. Ultimately, we’re stuck in the middle of life so enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been thinking about “Life being justified by it fruits.” for a few days now and still can’t reconcile the justified bit with my own beliefs. I can understand that Life is fruitful and this fruitfulness provides innumerable opportunities for enjoyment.

      I think, maybe, what your philosophy advocates is simply don’t look past the low hanging fruit – a starry sky (a cloudy sky, a blue sky), birdsong on the city street, talking with friends, the crackle of a bonfire, spilling a drink on your wife while swatting at a wasp and on and on and on. Every second of every day these fruits ripen and become ready to sustain life/enjoyment if only we [re]learn to recognize them and pluck them for ourselves.


  2. I love that! “Don’t look past the low hanging fruit – a starry sky… recognize them and pluck them for ourselves.” The essence of the feeling of this is in the film clip. I felt the friendship and simple comfort in it. Quietly making and eating scrambled eggs after a difficult evening. Brilliant.

    You know, sometimes you’ll have an idea (I mean, I’ll have an idea) and someone will rephrase it and give it back for a new understanding and appreciation. I really like the idea of plucking low-hanging fruit – meaning, fruit (pleasures, enjoyments, happiness, whatever you want to call it) that’s right there and easily accessible, but go ignored because we’ve got bigger ideas of what we think we need. I’m still working through the idea of ultimate things – a good – I’m not there but with that film clip from the Big Night of brothers eating quietly together, you’ve said more than words ever could.


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