Step Into Enjoyment (take one)

elevator door
The old joke goes, “A salesman tells an American that he has a new invention that will do half his work for him. The American replies, ‘Great. Give me two.‘”

Suppose a person named Emerson, of whom you’re familiar (and avoid), is in an elevator that you enter. “Oh great,” you think without pleasure. This is the last person you want to meet, but it’s too late to turn around. Emerson smiles brightly. You do likewise, but dimly. In Emerson’s eyes you see the sting of your dislike which makes you dislike even more. It’s not that Emerson is a bad person—just boring, an innocent, a nerd.

Stepping into the elevator, you assume the position: facing the door watching floor numbers count down—14…12…11…. And you think, “Why is this elevator so slow?”

Hawaiian music comes from a speaker in the ceiling. “That’s Gabby Pahinui singing “Hi`ilawe”,” says Emerson. “Oh, really?” you feign interest, roll your eyes and then, something remarkable happens.

In a beautiful voice Emerson sings “Hi`ilawe” in English,

waterfall3

All eyes are on Hi`ilawe
In the sparkling lowlands of Maukele
I escape all the birds
Chattering everywhere in Waipio.
I am not caught
For I am the mist of the mountains.
Waterfall,
Nothing can harm me at all.
My world is so very small
With my waterfall I can see
My rainbow calling me
Through the misty breeze
Of my waterfall.”

The song ends and you are hit by silence and stillness. Time is suspended between now and later, like the elevator that is suspended between up and down.

A fog of indifference lifts. Emerson’s lack of guile disarms social defenses. In an instant you know yourself and forget yourself. You see and hear—not as “you” seeing, but as “seeing” itself—as a body-and-mind seeing, you grasp things directly (see also Enjoy a Perfect World).

slothhappy

You feel giddy and silly as you and Emerson laugh. You wake up to the moment. You feel the space around you as if it’s a ghostly solid connecting everything together. You feel yourself inside a body that has an outside appearance that’s inside an elevator that’s inside a building that’s outside on a street and inside a biosphere.

And you wonder: “If everything has an inside with an outside that’s inside something else, where does it begin? where does it end? The experience of experiencing yourself experiencing feels like an awakening! 

In school Emerson was voted least likely to succeed. Like the Invisible Boy in the movie Mystery Men (1999), Emerson is invisible because no one is looking. It’s a power developed after years of being ignored.

mai tai2
“A drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts.”

And a new thought occurs: Why not be nice to Emerson? It won’t hurt. Maybe it’s from the music or the wine you had with dinner (or the Mai Tai before), but right now you feel a loving warm glow for all the Emersons in the world.

So you smile. It is your gift. You give generously with your teeth.

You realize that you are not a mind attached to a body and neither is Emerson.

You are just two human beings in a world dancing without moving as you fall through space in Hawaiian time.

You once saw Emerson try to talk to people. Emerson quoted the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer who said, “The ox does not butt because it happens to have horns; it has horns because it intends to butt” (A Perplexed Philosopher, p. 154). People looked at one another as if Emerson were a talking houseplant.

Unfazed, Emerson held up a pen saying, “I don’t write because I have a pen. I have a pen because I intend to write! It’s a matter of will that I am what I do! I don’t enjoy being Emerson because life is enjoyable. I enjoy being Emerson because it is my intention that life be enjoyable! All that we are and will ever be is an intention. We fly in jets because people contributed intelligent effort towards that intention. With intention and will, we devise ways to make our want happen.”

Someone said something stupid (and it wasn’t “I love you” like Frank and Nancy Sinatra) and everyone wandered away talking about their day. Emerson stood like a statue listening to a song no one could hear and then went invisible.

On the ground floor as the doors are opening, Emerson says, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?” and then, without being given permission asks, “Do you enjoy being you?” 

Of course you do! (Don’t you?) What a stupid question! You have to enjoy being yourself! If you don’t enjoy being you, you can’t enjoy! (Can you?) It’s like what the great Sammy Davis Jr said in song, “Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong. Whether I find a place in this world or never belongI gotta be me! I’ve gotta be me! What else can I be but what I am?”

In this world increasingly crowded, where people become traffic and virtual reality is deemed more desirable than the physical, in anonymity we assimilate into social functions like machines in a hurry as we crush nature and lose a sense of being in the world.

As William Barrett, author of Irrational Man (1958) observed, it is from one’s being in the world in the most mundane, factual and ordinary sense that we feel aware (William Barrett Interview, 1978).

existential GPSThat we split reality between observer and observed isn’t obvious. We’re often on auto-pilot, thinking thoughts that may or may not be stupid, but sometimes—on vacation, while washing dishes or doing nothing, in a relaxed moment—we emerge from being babies in a baby world to feeling aware of our self being here in this world!

Much of life’s unfolding is beyond our controlling. One thing happens, then another, and another, in an interconnected chain of consequences like a Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) machine, until one day, without awareness, nothing happens and you stop waking up.

Today we plant donut seeds in the form of Cheerios. We do what our Mamas and Pappas told us when they sang, “Do what you want to do. Go where you want to go” (“Go Where You Wanna Go”).

listen to a sea shellToday we celebrate you! We celebrate you, not to be egotistical, narcissistic, solipsistic or to show you how equally equal you are with 7.5 billion other people (according to a Worldometer).

We celebrate you “being in the world” so that you can feel as happy as Tommy (aka Roger Daltrey in The Who musical) singing “I’m Free” after he’s healed from not seeing, feeling and hearing.

keystokingdom
Knock, knock. Who’s there? ‘Doris.’ Doris who? ‘Doris locked, that’s why I knocked.’

Sensory awareness is a key. Sensory awareness isn’t about holding something like a key as a means to the instrumental task of opening a door. Sensory awareness is to be drawn to a particular aspect, like a key’s shiny metal, its cool texture, or lovely “Click” when it opens a door.

Sensory awareness is when you take a call from nature and hear yourself hearing. Everyone has sensory awareness, but not everyone engages in sensations thousands of times a day, but such is the intention of a lover of wisdom. Sometimes all it takes is an absence of hurry.

What Are You Overlooking? Another Kind of Shining

snow

If you go for a stroll and get cold, how can you escape that cold? Dress warmer. Go where it is neither hot nor cold. When it is cold, you should be cold. When it is hot, you should be hot. When you suffer, you should suffer. When you are happy, enjoy that happiness. Be ready for anything.

nuthatchSound is not noise unless you think it is. You see a red-breasted nuthatch. Its peeping enters your mind. If you think its song is not good, that thought is noise. If you are not disturbed, the nuthatch enters your heart and you are a nuthatch nuthatching.  

Strolling in a landscape is like the title The Hills Have Eyes. Your eyes and those of other woodland folk are the eyes of the landscape.

squirrel-posing-in-snow

Whatever you see is in your mind. You think there is this and there is that, but this and that are everything. There are many stars. Together they are a cosmos. There are many snowflakes. Together they are snow. Many and one describe one whole thing contained in containers containing.

russian doll
Outsides are insides.

Without trying to do anything, when you go beyond subjectivity and objectivity, you come to understand a oneness in things.

professor-inventor
Professor Grampy, Christmas Comes But Once a Year (1936)

Thinking shines thought on things out there in the mind. Like Aladdin’s magic lamp, you shine the mind and glow, knowing that what is happening is your doing for without you – to you – there is nothing.

A cold December ramble in snow frees you of time and brings to mind a Christmas carol that goes: “Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen. When the snow lay ’round about, deep and crisp and even.”

lamp2King and page go thither into a wind’s wild lament with gifts of flesh, wine and pine-logs for a peasant.

But the page loses heart, “I can go no longer,” so the king says, “Mark my footsteps, my good page. Tread thou in them boldly.” When the page does this, he finds, Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.” And so it is.

Goodness warms. It shines in the dark.

The are happy melodies. There are sad melodies. The king is not disturbed by cold (bad) or made ecstatic by riches (good). Enjoyment is always with him.

wenceslas

If you listen to the carol a few times (try Skydiggers, Loreena or traditional), it plays in your mind as you stroll with light. Imagine flying high above the ground a few feet below. Float through trees your head a camera on Steadicam-shoulders. In this mind movie outside goes inside and mingles with imagining.

how-we-see

You can dream of being in a movie like the song “Spill the Wine” (1970). Like spinning wheels in an optical illusion (hold your finger to Fig. 3), your mind spins reality to you. 

not-moving
Fig. 3.

When you say, “There are geese flying,” the geese flying are already in your mind. People say, “The geese are over there,” but if you think more about it, you will find that the geese are in your mind as a kind of thought. Geese flying are within. There are not two things – geese and you seeing. You cannot have one without the other. They are one.

geese-on-lake

It’s like water. There is water in a lake. There is water in you. Water is all over. Water is a source. Even when you are not aware of water, there is water. The source is there.

But people buy into crazy stuff like con artist Jim Bakker’s Buckets. They harm themselves for pleasures that become habitual and cause problems, but why?   

tasmanian-devil2INXS sang the line, “Every single one of us has a devil inside” (“Devil Inside,” 1987). To some people, the devil is real, but in the song the devil is a symbol of the voice we think is our own that talks us into doing what we probably shouldn’t.

It’s like the comedian Flip Wilson as Geraldine Jones saying, “The devil made me buy this dress,” or Kramer on Seinfeld telling George, “Listen to the little man within,” and George saying, “My little man is an idiot!” (see: Seinfeld clip).

tasmanian-devilAnd so he is, but the little man who spins self-centred rationalizations can be silenced by “shining” the mind on a Good King Wenceslas and red-breasted nuthatch.

John Lennon sang the line, “shine on” inspiring Stephen King for his novel that inspired Stanley Kubrick for his movie.

To “shine” is to put an image from your mind into another (source). People who look for hidden meanings in The Shining (1980) find what they look for. “We all shine on” comes from the song “Instant Karma” (1970). Karma means, “action, work or deed” (source). If you get cancer or miss getting hit by a car, that is your karma.

It’s what happens.

crash.gifSome people think karma is a system of cosmic retribution – a reap what you sow thing, but if you look at it, despite sowing bad deeds, selfish cheats reap prosperity as good deed doers suffer.

It doesn’t seem to matter.

In the movie Signs (2002) Mel Gibson as former Priest Graham Hess puts it this way: “People break down into two groups. When they experience something lucky, group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance.”

signs2

Depending how you look at it determines what you see.

the-ruling-class
The Ruling Class movie clip.

In the movie The Ruling Class (1972), Peter O’Toole’s character, Jack Gurney, thinks he is Jesus. When asked how he knows he is, O’Toole as Jack being Jesus answers, “Simple. When I pray to Him, I find I am talking to myself.

When asked to perform a miracle, O’Toole holds up a hand and says with wonder, “There’s your miracle.

The normal way of looking rarely sees anything supernatural in a natural world that is simply amazing. The trick to unadulterated enjoyment is to “Forgetaboutit!” Go into the world as if everything is one thing enjoying.

Enjoy An Insight


Ever have one of those days? Everybody does. It’s a real bummer of a day (bummer is hippie speak for misfortune). It’s one of those days when you say to yourself, “Why me?” or “Why now?”

that's a bummerYou’re up before the sun “working in a coal mine, going down down,” and someone says, “Lord! I am soooo tired. How long can this go on?” Not that you actually work in a coal mine (unless you do). We’re talking metaphor. We all work in a coal mine of one kind or another. Even those who don’t work, work in a coal mine of a kind.

It’s on a “one of those days” day that you look for a sign that there’s more to life. Not that you’re superstitious. It’s just that when life is boring, pointless and terrible, most of us look for a sign that there’s more to it. Even those who don’t believe in miracles look for them.

coal miner's helmet2But few people see signs these days and those who do are maligned. We might crave a vision but all we have is TV. It’s not because the signs aren’t there that we don’t see them.

We don’t see them because we’re either not paying attention or we lack imagination. It takes a special kind of sensitivity to subtlety for a person to see signs and put it together.

In 1989 two math professors wrote “Methods for Studying Coincidences” in which they outlined four sources for most coincidences: 1) a hidden cause, 2) the psychology of a person, including memory and perception, 3) multiplicity of endpoints, including the counting of “close” or nearly alike events as if they were identical, and 4) the law of truly large numbers – given enough events, almost any coincidence is bound to occur.

They found that most puzzling coincidences arise in the mind of the observer. Therein is the magic! That’s the answer! You alone see the sign! You create magic by tuning into it!

coincidence
Coincidence?

If you pay attention and if you lighten up and if you go for silly walks now and then you will become familiar with wonderful oddities (for complete instructions see: Ministry of Silly Walks) .

Call it coincidence. Call it ironic, moronic or divine. Call it just one of those things. Beyond rationalization, confabulation and logical explanation, there are times when weird things happen and you are in a perfect position to see them (see earlier post: “Enjoy What Is And Take What Comes“).

strange
The Slant.

Let’s say you’re on your way to get your blood tested. As you peddle past a pretty storybook house with a fountain, you’re reminded of fairy-land pictures you’ve seen. The thought occurs to you that you and everyone you know will soon be dead.

It sounds gloomy, but at this moment it isn’t. Knowing that everything you know and have ever known will soon be gone has a way of putting things in perspective (see earlier post “Enjoy A Bad Day“).

chickendeathhome

What’s the worse case scenario in any situation? You could die. But you know that’s going to happen anyway so, as Dire Straits put it, “Why worry?

street-sign-spinnerNo sooner do you have this realization when you see a sign. But it isn’t the sign that catches your attention. It’s the sign spinner. Stopped at a streetlight, you watch the sign spinner. Suddenly life doesn’t seem so bad.

And you hear music coming from somewhere. It’s Tommy James and the Shondells singing Draggin’ the Line which goes, “Makin’ a livin’ the old, hard way.

art_purpleflowers_2Takin’ and givin’ my day by day.
I dig snow and rain and the bright sunshine…
My dog Sam eats purple flowers.
Ain’t got much, but what we got’s ours…
I feel fine!
I’m talkin’ ’bout peace of mind.
I’m gonna take my time.
I’m gettin’ the good sign…”

fountain-05What you thought was going to be “one of those days” changes into something beautiful when you open yourself to connection and possibility.

Jump forward: now you’re in a lab cubicle waiting for a nurse to take your blood. You’re listening to the Moody Blues sing “Tuesday Afternoon” and you think, “That’s funny. It is a Tuesday afternoon!”

The nurse comes in and prepares the syringe. You avert your eyes and on the wall you see a picture of a fountain. It looks like the fountain you saw earlier by the storybook house that reminded you of pictures that you once saw of a fairyland of love. They say that fountains symbolize joy and peace and water is the sign of calmness. All you know is that you like water fountains.

You may look back on your life like a Dickens’ novel. Life seems planned but little accidental meetings and experiences turn out to be main features of the plot. At this minute, looking around at the world as you do, you suddenly have an insight.

You marvel at the wonder of life and in so doing, enjoy it.

 

Nonordinary Enjoyment


After scuba diving, Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV (aka Blackman Francis or Frank Black) from the band the Pixies was inspired to write, “With your feet on the air and your head on the ground. Try this trick and spin it. Yeah. Your head’ll collapse, but there’s nothing in it. And then you’ll ask yourself: Where is my mind?

He’s not literally looking for his mind. One doesn’t lose one’s mind like one loses one’s keys (see post: A New Way of Looking).

flippersWhile he was scuba diving Black probably did lose his mind, not to madness, but to a beautiful feeling when there’s nothing in it but the beauty of being in the beauty of what’s all around. When inner talk runs between wanting and not-wanting, and liking and disliking is stopped—particularly in a natural setting—we can feel aware of beauty in the outside world and enjoy it like nothing else. 

Stilling the inner monologue has been talked about by artists, poets, artisans and all those who lose themselves in creating, by athletes who lose themselves in playing, by mothers, fathers, lovers and friends who lose themselves in loving, by meditators who lose themselves in breathing, by comrades in camaraderie, by martial artists in the zone, by co-workers and soldiers, by mystics and bakers – by anyone who suddenly feels aware of the world with a shock of boundless love and the enjoyment of being.

If your mind is always busy, angry, depressed or confused, if you are always trying to achieve goals and better health, you won’t enjoy living because you are always somewhere else. You’re living for for a future perfection that never comes. If life doesn’t feel quite right, it never will. Life is never quite right because it cannot be what you like. It’s only when you allow yourself to relax that you relax and in so doing, enjoy life in its unfolding.

There may be future goals, hazards, struggles and sorrows but each seeker of happiness should know that we don’t want happiness later. We want it now. Happiness isn’t at the  top of the hill.

path

We want a path to happiness right now but we only find good reason to be satisfied on that path by being satisfied. Feel satisfied and you are. That’s it. Tell yourself and you will listen. It’s an unconscious thing. You don’t love because, as in, “for some reason.” You love because you do.

When thoughts of self-gain subside one’s mind is extended from brain and body to world all around. Ego-brain and ego-mouth are Trumped by love and forced to be quiet. Everyone is just another you. It’s a merging. Scientists and mystics call this an altered states of consciousness. You can see it happen in brain scans. 

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The Pixies 1988 version of “Where is my mind?” is in the movie Fight Club. Other versions of the song include Maxence Cyrin’s (set to scenes from The Mysterious Lady, a silent film from 1928 starring Greta Garbo), the band Placebo‘s and Sunday Girl’s version in the show Mr. Robot.

It’s a song that gets around.

batmanEnjoyment can be conscious – as in, you consciously choose to read this – or unconscious – as in, you feel something without knowing why.

Feelings are real.

Most people think their mind is in their brain. Some say that “the mind is a function of the brain” in the same way that seeing is a function of eyes and hearing is a function of ears (The Automatic Mind). Others say the mind is your personality, but personality is in the eye of a third-person and mind is a first-person thing.

The mind is what it feels like to be you. When that mind—the feeling of being you—is blown away, “you,” as in your individual feeling of consciousness receives sensory information from the environment around you, you are shifted from a self-perception to utter contentment and a good solid floating feeling.

Float on that dandelion seed of imagination and enjoy the sensation.

where is my mind seed

In the British Journal of Psychiatry Susan Greenfield (2002) wrote, “Now consider ‘losing the mind’ or ‘blowing the mind’. Because we are still conscious when these often much-sought-after events occur, I would suggest that it is wrong to conflate ‘mind’ with ‘consciousness’. Just think a little more about being ‘out of your mind’. In such situations, the individual no longer is accessing personalised cognitive perspectives, the world no longer has a personalised meaning and instead one is the passive recipient of incoming sensory information” (Mind, Brain and Consciousness).

Fight-Club-Where-Is-My-Mind

You don’t need a rave to enjoy. You don’t need anything. When mental chatter about wanting and not-wanting are silent, you become enjoyment itself. You shift to lamp mode. You glow.

lampWhen you enjoy, you become as a poet.

And what is a poet? A poet is a person speaking to people. A poet adopts the very language of people. All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerfully good feelings (adapted from Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads).

Medicine for an unhappy mind is not just sensory awareness of outward beauty, but in states of feeling, and of thought coloured by feeling, under the excitement of beauty.

With practice of character, self-awareness and attention to your senses in your surroundings, a sense of beauty and love – a fantastically happy feeling – can happen anywhere, any time. Even right now. Why not?

You’re here aren’t you?

lake picture

A New Way of Looking

keys
Here’s the thing: If someone says, “The secret to life is...,” that person is unknowingly (or knowingly) misleading. Why?

Because.

It isn’t a secret. If it was a secret, everyone’s secret would be different.

It’s like looking for keys and not finding them even—though they’re under your nose. You’re in a hurry but waste time running around looking for keys and not finding them because you’re in a hurry. You look repeatedly on the table—where they should be (and are)—but don’t see them. Why? In desperation you start looking in weird places. So too do people look for enjoyment in weird place when they don’t have to. Enjoyment is right under your nose.

When you finally do find find your keys, you feel extra extra-annoyed because they were there all along, and you wonder: “How could I not see them? Am I blind? (No.) Am I an idiot? (Only partly).”

The power is in the focus. It’s a matter of attention. It’s all a matter of awareness.

pug

In the hurry to find what you’re looking for you see with eyeballs but not with brain. Hurry causes stress. Stress causes the release of cortisol in the brain. Cortisol can kill brain cells in the area responsible for memory (Your Amazing Brain). If you add multi-tasking to a frantic searching, you have zero attention (Brain Rules…).

what a view

Searching for keys in all the wrong places is like searching for enjoyment. We don’t see what’s in front of us. Enjoyment is simple. It’s so simple that we don’t get it until we do and then we doubt it because we might be expecting something that isn’t so subtle.

If you’re reading this—wherever you are in this world—you’re probably alive. If you’re alive, you’re halfway there, but the other half isn’t easy. Nature isn’t on your side. Nature isn’t on anyone’s side. Nature is cause and effect.

The trouble is that happiness gets tied to desire and expectations. We define happiness as, Wanting what we want and getting what we get and hoping the two coincide.

overthinking2You see, it’s because of our brains. We either over-think and make it complicated, we under-think and act on insane urges or we multi-task and miss everything.

We think, “If I have this (or that), I’ll be happy,” but not only do we think that something outside ourselves will make us happy, we’re drawn to things that actually hurt us.

pawnsOur brains send messages. Sometimes these messages are destructive—ask anyone in therapy, rehab, prison or who is about to blow himself up. Not only do we deceive ourselves, other people trick us with their deceptions and w can become like pawns in the game of life, sacrificed for someone else’s idea of enjoyment.

So, what’s the answer?

Fred FlintstonePicture brain messages symbolically like they do in cartoons with a devil-you and an angel-you on each shoulder arguing their case for you to decide (see Internal Multitudes and Enjoyment Decisions). The devil-you often wins and when he does, he gets harder to stop.

Pleasure and habit are linked. Cells that fire together, wire together. In other words: Habits are hard to break (see: It’s not me. It’s my brain.)

It’s like a battle between, on one side, the Rolling Stones at 120 decibels singing “Sympathy For The Devil”, “Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste,” and on the other side, a string quartet playing “Hallelujah” in your living room.! Who do you think will win?

innocenseOn one side are symbols of light, innocence and wholesomeness (sappy?) and on the other, just the opposite (exciting?). In the battle between it comes down to focus. What do you choose to enjoy?

Enjoyment of life and of healthy beauty is decided by awareness of what “you” choose to pay attention to.

daffodils2Do you take the gentle path of life as represented in Wordsworth’s poem, “I wandered lonely as a cloud; That floats on high o’er vales and hills; When all at once I saw a crowd; A host, of golden daffodils“? Or is that boring? “Daffodils? You’re kidding!”

zobie3Do you prefer your entertainment on the excitingly evil side? How about delightful depravity and edgy cruelty that’s funny too? What’s your pleasure? Do you choose a quiet read, a walk in the park, a pint with a friend, or ‘gorified’ death in a Zombie Apocalypse?

It’s a tough decision for most people.

Subtlety is missed by mobs fed on chatter, drugs, violence, convenience and bread and circuses. A butterfly caught in a web is easily killed by the spider. It takes heart and courage and a focus on what is wholesome to overcome dark greed.

butterfly.jpgWholesome isn’t a word used much these days. It alludes to marketing all-natural breakfast cereals and family values but back in the year 1200 wholesome meant “of benefit to the soul.” It comes from the word “whole” meaning “healthy” (undamaged, entire, safe) and “-some” meaning “tending to” (Etymology Dictionary).

Wholesome relates to “Hallow!” as in Hello! Health! Holy! It’s a greeting and a call to health and Hallelujah! (Word Origins).

Imagine: You go to a concert in a high school auditorium but your brain is messed up with problems. You miss the first part before your spirit gets caught up in the music and then… and then

A switch to whole.

seating

You see where you are. Your face relaxes. Totally still you breathe and your eyes… your eyes! they widen and go slack. You see as if you were life itself.

What was a disheveled auditorium with flickering light bulbs about to die and chattering nuisance people becomes… beautiful. You enter the stream. You are empty absolutely. You know that life runs along like a runaway train as you float in your body behind a face.

life is beautiful
A scene.

You look out of yourself self-aware. This moment is captured in the very being of yourself – not as an ego, but as… a spirit.

The purest illuminations come unsought.

You are transfigured but no one knows. How could they? You are alone in yourself but through the eyes of another you see the importance of all this. It’s in relationships and immersion. You’ve put your will to the side and thrown yourself out.

Such is enjoyment seeing.

Cease demanding that life conform to desire. See daffodils and ignore zombies (they aren’t real).

Wisdom and Enjoyment

cat
Louis. A  friend to everyone. Enjoying.

Every philosophy has a central reference point. The central reference point here is that life is to be enjoyed. What could be simpler? Enjoy life. But then: Is all enjoyment equal? Does anything go? 

Much has been said of sensual awareness in the natural environment, of beauty, of peace, of simple pleasures, of self-control, of kindness, of humility, of humour in all things and so on – all good stuff albeit not what a seeker of excitement would envision; nevertheless, in all this, it’s clear: Not all enjoyment is equal and not everything that can be done should be.

It’s a matter of wisdom.

Between thinking expressed here and your interpretation of this thinking, a wise heart is nurtured.

nature-healing

It was said: “The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty if we are strong; even then their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away…So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart” (Psalm 90, King James Bible). To gain a wise heart, count your days and enjoy them, for they are numbered.

hesiod
Hesiod (circa 650 BC)

Hesiod, 8th Century BC Greek poet and farmer, wrote: “… man is best who sees the truth himself. Good too is he who listens to wise counsel. But who is neither wise himself nor willing to ponder wisdom is not worth a straw” (source: Goodreads). Do you listen to wise counsel or do you think you know it all? Are you worth a straw?

Philosophy is a critical reflection. It is the love of wisdom. It is human. You can analyse the world you’re in and question what passes for common sense (Critchley, 2001) but is it wise to get worked up about it? Wisdom is a way of seeing the big picture. Enjoy wisely.

howards end_blue 5Real enjoyment isn’t what ant-like machine-people say it is. Dismiss nihilism as nothing and find something in the meaning of enjoying a flower. It’s meaning is that it lives and is beautiful. It’s a matter of attention: Attention. Attention. Attention.

bad behaviourReal enjoyment is wise. It is not crude or puerile. It is not a paved landscape. It is not computer devices or money. It’s not booze, drugs and giggles. Go Bach to a time when you felt divine. Walk. Live beauty in the mind. Enjoyment is not a gregarious mob. It’s a peach and things small.

readerEnjoyment is a Gestalt. It’s outside in nature and inside a cosy Howard’s End corner of your own where you can keep the aspidistra flying like Wolf Solent or Siddhartha and eat grapes of wrath far from the madding crowd.

Enjoyment is contemplative. It’s subtle. It’s sublime. To any decision the central question to ask is: Is it wise?

urban-sprawl-2

For example: Developers build sub-divisions, a carpet of roads, endless house-boxes, box stores and parking lots. It may be enjoyable, but: Is it wise? The developers enjoy getting rich. Workers enjoy working. People enjoy flooring, cars, packaged food and drink. This is progress! This is success and economics, but, again: Is it wise?

Middle-aged children enjoy beer and mean-spirited jokes. He-men enjoy loud trucks and testosterone. Women enjoy buying what isn’t needed. Commuters enjoy express-ways lined by animal splatters, but: Is it wise?

wisdomA philosopher can only smile and do what can be done with a sense of humour. The highest happiness is a reflective life and an examined life, but an unlived life marked by frustration is not worth examining. One must live and in living, enjoy what is good.

Religion put faces to good and evil. Such faces were made real by imagination. To some people the supernatural is more real than a planet under siege – they hardly notice the droughts, endangered animals, floods and chaos – but good and evil come in the guise of ordinary people like ourselves doing what they do without being wise.

Good is kind. Evil is not. In any situation one may behave well or reprehensibly. We slip, but we get up and try to enjoy ourselves gently. We say stupid things on occasion. Personality and a personal philosophy (or lack thereof) say more than we realize. Look at yourself. Are you good? Are you bad? Are you both? What are your ideals?

Do the right thing. Look at the big picture and enjoy wisely.

And the Waiter said, “Enjoy.”

waiterIt’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?

soupThe 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.

forrest gumpWhether 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.”

a life not enjoyedThe 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.”

proustIn 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.

And enjoy.

How To Enjoy: The Good, Bad And Ugly

toad2

Relationships are fraught with trouble. Relationships are fragile. The terrain is complicated. In any given situation, where one person reacts with rage another is sad; where one is amused, another is confused. You might think you know how someone will react, but you never know. You can’t see what goes on in another’s head. People are unpredictable.

In a conflict, one person’s solution might be to accommodate while another’s is to attack (or withdraw). Few people master the art of human relationship. Philosophers and poets have their explanations.

SarteJean Paul Sarte, a philosopher, said in a play (No Exit1944) that,  “hell is other people.” He might mean that our freedom is deprived because we are trapped by our need for respect and adulation from others. He might argue that until a person learns that he or she alone is responsible for his or her own behaviour, he or she will remain in hell and people who say they don’t care what other people think of them are probably lying.

MiltonJohn Milton, a poet, said, The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” (Paradise Lost1667). He might mean that what we enjoy is heaven in this life and what is distressing is hell. We think ourselves into the states we’re in. If one can focus one’s mind on good stuff in spite of the sorrows and difficulties, one could experience heavenly bliss in this life. People who are always sad and dissatisfied (even the rich and healthy) can’t experience true bliss.

Both of these thinkers – philosopher and poet – might agree that happiness and sorrow depend on how we think. A happy mind can make surroundings seem heavenly and an unhappy mind can make surroundings seem hellish. As one thinks, so one feels. The trick, therefore, to living in a heaven or a hell in this life is in the way we manage our thoughts and emotions, but what is a thought?

A thought is like an invisible bubble. A thought is like that song, I’m forever blowing bubbles which goes: “I’m forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air, they fly so high, nearly reach the sky, but then like my dreams they fade and die” (Jaan Kenbrovin, 1918). Fortune eludes the singer, but therein lies its beauty – it’s resonance. We all know the feeling that you can’t always get what you want (and, rightly so).

balloonPeople speak of being in high spirits and low spirits depending on mood. A mood is coloured by thought. Think angry thoughts, see red; think sad thoughts, get the blues. Think envy, go green. Mandatory happiness is phoney. To enjoy life is to feel all the colours without necessarily acting on them. You’ve got to go with it and get what you need.

In each person there is a secret self, not in any mystical sense, but in the sense of a hidden self inside each of us. One person might understand another, but no one can fully experience the thoughts and feelings of another. You might understand someone’s pain, but you can’t feel it yourself.

On a cold winter’s morning in the midst of a deep-freeze it is a challenge to enjoy. When someone we love dies, that too, is a challenge. To enjoy again despite the pain is to hear a sad song and enjoy a good cry. To feel the bad is to feel future good. Take courage! Bring it on home. Enjoy the ups and the downs in equal measure. You can’t have one without the other.

As a philosopher of enjoyment, you will get the blues and gain the strength to say, “Bring it on!” To enjoy suffering like a philosopher-poet is a challenge for the enjoyer of living.

pantherThere are tricks you can use. Notice how the face of ecstasy looks similar to the face of pain. Grin yourself through the pain and smile at the good as much as you can. Get the blues and feel a special kind of confidence that only you yourself can possess.

If you cultivate in your soul the genius of loneliness, you’re not just a human: you’re a sturdy tree, you’re a patient toad, you’re a crafty panther. Imagine how you will feel and and you will.

Will yourself to feel what you will.

Rules of Enjoyment

Featured_sporting_arrows_215x1681Imagine that in your hands you hold an old bow and arrow. It is summer. The sun is rising. You are young and better looking than you are (why not?). All is quiet except for birds singing. You gaze up at distant hills and the last of midnight stars.

You feel like you’re in a movie that only you will see, but that’s not sad. It’s profound. It’s an opportunity for you to enjoy the show.

Wild grass swishes against your legs as you walk into the centre of a meadow lined by trees. The air smells damp. It is cool, not cold. Selecting a spot from which to launch, you position an arrow and raise the bow. A lively tune from your soundtrack is playing. Tension builds. Aiming high, you hope to hell no one gets killed.russian dollIn this imagining where you are better looking than you are, the arrow is you, the bow is you, the air is you and where you land is you. It’s all you!

There’s unity in what you see. Wisdom is knowing that organisms in a meadow are each a part of it. You are as much a part of the meadow as anything else in that meadow. To feel no separation between yourself and your surroundings – to merge in what you see – is the ultimate enjoyment of the earth-trance kind. People may feel peaceful absorption while gardening, rock climbing, walking on a beach or in intimacy. It is to lose yourself in where you are. It is a subtle feeling as light as a line traced by a fly.

When your mental chatter goes quiet and you feel the landscape seeing you seeing it, that is when you slip into an alternate reality of one. It’s a giddy feeling! Words like, “This is amazing,” come to mind just before you go silent. It’s an ever so slight shift in perspective from how you normally perceive reality. Reality that was out there is now not. There is no out there. Its like a spell that takes you out of yourself, but it isn’t magic or mystical. It’s ordinary. It’s extraordinarily ordinary. It’s a silent, click. The world around is always there, but we stop noticing. Thinking keeps us busy and detached.

TWANG! The arrow zips into the air, where it lands… you don’t care (it’s the flying not the landing that matters).

Such is life.

pond

You’re like little castle in a pond. This is the thrill of your loneliness but it’s tricky because everything has an opposite. There’s enjoyable alone (alone and glad of it!) and there’s suffering alone (alone with self-pity)These things loop.

If you’re happy alone, you’re happy alone but the more alone you feel, the more alone you are. The more self-conscious you feel, the more self-conscious you are.

A person alone who takes care of himself is together. A sign of sanity is to be happy alone and to take care of yourself. To feel separate and alone is to feel broken. On one side there’s you and on the other, everything (and everyone) else. With people, the more alike we are, the more we like, but the more unlike, the more dislike. To feel a kindred spirit is to feel unity. To feel the same behind the eyes, is to feel as one.

In this imagined sending of an arrow into the air, the arrow is you, but what if you tie rocks to your arrow? People who tie rocks of pride, vanity and conceit to themselves weigh themselves down. If your desire is to enjoy life and to increase other people’s chances of enjoying it too, the thing to destroy is all trace of arrogance, vanity and conceit. Humility is one of the most powerful weapons in the life-battle to enjoy.

poolJust as there are rules of engagement in time of war, so too are there Rules of Enjoyment! The rules are simple. Post them like you would post swimming pool rules.

  • Never substitute your own enjoyment for other people’s ideas of enjoyment
  • Never sacrifice a life of contemplative sensation for a life of outward success
  • Never let haters of other people’s enjoyment interfere with your own

pelicanPelican Rules of Enjoyment

  1. No worries about work
  2. No worries about money
  3. No worries about fame
  4. No striving
  5. No pride, no vanity, no conceit
  6. Remain calm
  7. Remain kind
  8. Remain slightly amused at all times
  9. Enjoy being alone.
  10. Enjoy being together
  11. Enjoy sensing surroundings
  12. Enjoy enjoyment
  13. Suffer through suffering to enjoy again

Here’s The Thing

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Everyone knows that horrible, terrible, and disgusting things happen. The News is not always good. People are nuts. Flies exist and it’s hard to open a pickle jar now and again, but that’s beside the point!

We know that bad stuff happens! It’s obvious – just look around – but could bad stuff be just a distraction? With your head well-above the sand, you can probably see how life oscillates between good and bad, on and off, life and death. First good, then bad, then good, bad, bad, good – you get the picture. Life is fraught with adversity. Life lives off of itself. It truly is a bitter sweet symphony.

If you want to enjoy the experience of living as you are in this body with that face that looks back at you dumbly, you have to try to enjoy living. In so doing enjoyment is shared forward. This is your Philosophy of Enjoyment. It comes with a money back guarantee.

anger controlIf you want to will yourself happy, you need the courage and freedom to become nothing but an impersonal consciousness. This isn’t to say that you don’t care for others, it’s just that you are willing to be light as a feather. To be nothing-but-an-impersonal-consciousness means that you excuse yourself from self-importance.

To enjoy, really enjoy, one must be so immersed that one becomes enjoyment. One becomes the eyes that see and the ears that hear. The islands of other selves all around are doing the same. Each person feels alone so be kind to every one of them, for each one is a another you.

frog

What is the value of a frog? Not much, but the value of a frog to itself is priceless. A healthy frog is a happy frog. To live to enjoy living is what a frog appears to be doing. Why else would it try so hard to get away? A living frog wants to keep living. To be a frog another day is the goal of every frog eating a fly. That’s what this trip is about. It’s circular. To live is to enjoy living and to enjoy living is to make living enjoyable. You are like a frog except for the unexpectedly long sticky tongue.

No matter how great you might think you are: you’re not. Nobody is superior to any one else. Much depends on chance, opportunity and ability. People get misplaced priorities. They judge. They find fault or they grieve over faults. People get self-absorbed. They do some smart things and they do some stupid things, but when you get right down to it, under the skin, behind the eyes, in the heart, everybody is a lonely soul within a singularity.

The key to enjoyment is to lose one’s self in the enjoyment of living or, as Kurt Vonnegut so aptly put it, “We’re here to fart around.” Making a lot of yourself can get in the way of enjoyment. Expect what you get and get what you expect. The more important you think you are, the more you set yourself apart.

be present at all timesLife isn’t easy. Even those who find it easy say it isn’t. Why be surprised when there’s trouble? Trouble is part of not having trouble. Being untroubled is to be without it. The trick to enjoyment is to defy trouble. Troubling trouble by being untroubled is enjoyable. It’s fun to say, “Troubles be gone!” 

To be untroubled is freedom from trouble. Freedom from trouble is enjoyable. Anything enjoyable is itself enjoyable. Bring it on home!

Defy! Defy! Defy! Just as it is easier to endure pain, anxiety and calamity with defiance, so too is it easier to enjoy enjoyment by defying it to be otherwise. Troubles are doubled when one resigns to them. Without expectations one is never dissatisfied. Be the wedge between sensation and emotion and feel the magic of life living.