Old people speak day lily language. They know in their bones that the song of life is not very long and that happiness makes you cry. They say things like, “Enjoy every day, ’cause you just never know!” This irritates some people.
There are at least three reasons why “enjoy everyday ’cause you just never know” irritates some people:
1) It’s silly. You can enjoy yourself sometimes and on occasion, but every day? Even billionaires have bad days.
2) It puts the pressure on. It leaves one guessing: Is this enjoyable enough? What should I be doing?
3) When someone says ’cause you just never know, they actually do. Knowing disaster could strike isn’t helpful.
Most people would probably like to enjoy every day, but life has a way of getting in the way. Things that hinder enjoyment include: pain, cold, hunger, fear, illness, discomfort, disappointment, frustration, humiliation, sex (too much, not enough, in eccentric doses), mental disturbances and, the big one: boredom (when you feel sick of everything).
Is there a way to shake off the obstacles that hinder enjoying ourselves? Of course. It’s called forgetting. Forget who you think you are! Forget thinking! Forget you have a face!
If you think you need to win a lottery to enjoy every day, you’re not noticing. You’re richer than any billionaire. Would not a billionaire give it all away just to stay alive another day? It’s not what you see that matters, it’s where you’re seeing from!
Do you see through a peep hole embedded in an apple head or do you see the world through one huge all encompassing window without an edge? Who is the one seeing?
The beauty of this philosophy is its simplicity. It starts with mind. Mind is everything. You are your mind. It doesn’t have to be a clever mind. It can be an idiotic mind. The mistake everybody makes is to assume that you have to be wise and intellectual to get the truth about life.
Quite the opposite.
The trick is to clear your mind of ideas and use it not for the purpose of more thinking, but to stop thinking and start noticing.
What we all live for is happiness. What is happiness? Happiness is a series of pleasures that in the long run satisfy us completely. Without single pleasures that are delicious in themselves, it’s impossible to have any satisfying sequence of pleasures. And what do single pleasures consist? They consist of simple pleasures. Pleasure is the sensation we experience when we plunge into something outside ourselves.
Imagine that your body is a diving suit and that all matter is a mass of material outside yourself. Mind is the self within us and matter is the self without us. It is by plunging into the mind, into what we hear, taste, touch, see and smell that we experience the enjoyment of living.
The trick is to combine seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting and touching without preconceived notions of who you think you are as an object (The Headless Way). Look not from behind a thought-mask, but from a centre of direct experience.
See not the world from meatball peepholes, but through a huge window.
The key to profound, serene and high definition spots of enjoyable time is to be aware of your own private and particular vantage point.
The whole of life can be divided into two overlapping halves, the first action, the second contemplation. You perform an action like walk down the street. If you’re busy thinking without looking, you won’t notice much, but if your mind is open, you see beauty.
In this philosophy there is nothing to believe. It’s all an experience. It’s a matter of taking off blinders. You can enjoy every day better than any billionaire burdened by big stuff. All it takes is a shift in perspective from what you look at to what you look from.
Let’s say you’re washing dishes. While your hands work, you see a sunbeam shine on the table, you see a brown leaf blown across bricks out the window, you hear a distant train. Such contemplation of smell, sight and sound occupies about three-quarters of our life while action occupies about a quarter of conscious awareness.
You might work all day without noticing you’re alive. So much does our happiness depend on those three-quarters of life that even if we are incredibly good at our daily job we can be the reverse of happy in our lives!
In “Tintern Abbey“ Wordsworth wrote, “And I have felt/ A presence that disturbs me with the joy/ Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime” (93-96). This presence doesn’t come from within or from outside. It isn’t here or there, but present in the “blended might” of mind and nature (Durr, 1970).
The heart of enjoyment lies within feeling spots of time intensely realized without thinking. It’s a matter of opening. You can enjoy every day better than all the billionaires put together!
Durr, R. A. (1970). Poetic Vision and the Psychedelic Experience. Syracuse University Press.
Lang, R. (2016). “Reflection 285,” The Headless Way.