A Ponderous Enjoyment

It’s funny to think, while watching an old movie, how everyone that was recorded on film has stopped living (even the little kids grew old and died).

Well, maybe thinking about how everybody is dead in an old movie (even the little kids who grew old) isn’t that funny, but it is fun to imagine being alive in the 1920’s. In Paris. In the rain. 

If you’re a romantic and don’t mind dampness (and wool).

paris in the rain

For more about “romantics” see Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. The reference to 1920’s Paris’ rain is a nod to American actor, producer, and screenwriter, Owen Wilson (1968- ), and the alteration of human consciousness from egocentric to universal (or something).

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Buster feeling joie de vivre. “Silence is of the gods; only monkeys chatter.” ~ Buster

It’s fun to imagine how the same self-feeling that Owen Wilson feels—that feeling of being Owen, of Owen-ness, of being one’s self, a “me,” a role, a personality, a joie de vivre, a joy of living” feeling, we who are alive feel (sometimes)—is the same self-feeling Buster Keaton (1895-1966) had and you have, only Buster was a different body living in a present we think of as past.

This self-feeling is like seeing (the act of vision with eyes).

We who see know how great seeing is. We enjoy seeing trees with flowers and bees (see also: “A Way of Seeing to Enjoy (Part 1)”.

Seeing is the thing—not what is seen (although, beauty is better).

snowbird hawthorn tree
Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a Snowbird Hawthorn blooming?

What’s being seen is of the past (if you think about it).

Like the song says, “everybody look at your hands” (“Safety Dance”). If you have a hand, you see it and other appendages in the present at this location with your eyes (if you have them). What you see is experienced as seeing. (If there was nothing to see, seeing would be redundant.)

A goat doesn’t have horns because it butts, it butts because it has horns; likewise, we don’t have eyes because we see, we see because we have eyes. The world is literally nothing without you seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, tasting and thinking about it. (See also “Good Morning Starshine” “Gliddy gloop gloopy. Nibby nobby nooby. La la la lo lo.”)

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Imagine seeing yourself seeing. You’d be in the scene seeing yourself seeing. Image: Hand of the desert at night.

When we look into the sky, we see a star’s past at that location. Since nothing can travel faster than light (including what happens to us), “From where we are, the star is still in our sky, because the space we can interact with goes further into the past as its distance from us increases. In other words, we’re always surrounded by the past” (source).

(See also: Enjoy A Perfect World.)

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Owen seeing without trying. “Just to be yourself and not to try to sell anything or make a good impression, that’s something worth striving towards.” ~ Owen

We who are alive continue a line of life-energy passed like a torch from our parents, their parents, their parents’ parents, back to the beginning (assuming there was one)—not to mention, procreation and the torch carried into the future (assuming there is one).

The same self-feeling and awareness of aliveness that we who are alive feel was transmitted to us by those before us like a game of tag where we who are alive are it—it being an “energy” we don’t want so the game is to touch someone who, when touched, tries to touch back (for more, see: Sammy Johns “Chevy Van” (making love in)). 

Like electricity in water, life-energy conducts itself in the form of a human baby (comprised primarily of water). Born into society, a “burning” biology begins in the baby whereby fuel (food) is burned (digested) creating body-energy to look for more fuel to keep the fire burning and possibly propagate the species (for the good of humanity).

(See also Billy Joel, “We Didn’t Start the Fire“.)

And so we feel our self as a body in a world, separate and alone. To breathe, sense, think, work and continue as a unit ad infinitum or forever—if possible.

Father plus mother equals child born to live, change, deteriorate and die and all of it traced out in DNA: “a double helix formed by base pairs attached to a sugar-phosphate backbone” (What is DNA?).

DNA

The body of a person is like a machine grown out of a mother who was herself grown from a mother. This machine is called Human or Homo sapiens, if you prefer (we answer to both).

Human society shapes the minds of its members and remains after individuals pass away. Like a tree lives on after its leaves fall away in the winter and are replaced, so too does society continue after individual people are gone.

Where it started no one is quite sure but every person throughout history has had a biology and the same “alive” self-feeling of being (or so one would assume).

Only the names and skeletal remains change.

skeletons

In old films we see people experiencing a present moment captured like a memory.

ladyin1897.jpgWatching old films has a way of putting life into perspective (see also: Electric Edwardians).

One can imagine one’s self as a person back then and from this one might conclude:

Playing with cats is more fun.

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Behaviour modification in action.

We all know life is an “on” and “off” system (see also: The Essence of This). It’s just that we prefer on to off. On (alive) is the absence of “off” (not alive) but as you can see, they go together.

Those who experience stillness know the opinions and stories we tell about identity, social roles, ethnicity, philosophy, religion, politics and so on do not exist in our immediate experience.

In the immediate experience there’s not even a “you” to be found because it turns out that “you” are a story too. Being “on” is all you know and the seemingly long brevity of existence is a twinkle in an ocean of eons. It’s just a matter of enjoying it as it goes and how it goes as it’s going! (That’s all.)

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The Enjoyment Argument

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Starting the day with an argument isn’t fun. Maybe some people enjoy a rip-roaring argument in the morning (sets the tone for a rip-roaring day!), but most people don’t. A bad argument can feel like you are “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

Arguments can feel threatening. Threats can activate the fight or flight response, like the song: “The foot bone is connected to the leg bone. The leg bone is connected to the knee bone…” except it isn’t bones connecting; it’s brain chemicals and physical effects.

brain-is-built-to-changeWhen we argue, we sing the “Fight or Flight Song” (set to the tune of the Delta Rhythm Boys’ “Dry Bones”): “The amygdala is connected to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is connected to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is connected to the adrenal medulla…”  and then it’s: “Release the hounds!

the-houndsOr rather, “Release the hormones!” First adrenaline then cortisol causing: “increased heart rate, bladder relaxation, tunnel vision, shaking, dilated pupils, flushed face, dry mouth, slow digestion and hearing loss” (source).

Great for running from killer air-planes when you need bladder relaxation, but not when arguing about money, underpants, the existence of God or the Big Bang Theory.

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We can try to stick to facts, but emotions get in. A rock and roll philosopher can be left feeling somewhere between the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”: “No colour anymore!” (see also orchestral version) and Annie Lennox’s “Why”: “This boat is sinking.

Academics, Mercier and Sperber, argue in the “Argumentative Theory” that arguments aren’t about getting at the truth. They’re about winning!

winnerDr. Jonathan Haidt said of the theory, “Reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments” (source).

Bias and lack of logic are social adaptations.

They enable one group to defeat another or, as George Carlin put it, “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubt, while the stupid people are full of confidence.” Or, as Patricia Cohen from the New York Times put it, “Certitude works, however sharply it may depart from the truth” (source).

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“I’m smart; you’re dumb. I’m big; you’re little. I’m right; you’re wrong!” (scene from Matilda)

no-it-isntArguments can become loops of back-and-forth like Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic”. Reason is argumentative and people become skilled arguers, but skilled arguers are not after the truth: they want a better argument to support their views!

yes-it-isReason is responsible for some fantastic achievements, but as Mercier and Sperber point out, we should be cautious with these accomplishments since “failures are often less visible” (source).

Some people blame emotion

Researchers at University College London say that rational individuals “can override their emotional responses” (source).

picasso-and-chagal-emotion
Paintings by Picasso and Chagall showing emotion.

The implication being that rational individuals are unemotional and therefore better able to make rational decisions, but (and here’s the kicker) people left without emotion from a brain injury are unable to make decisions (source) because reasoning is full of emotion (source).

reasonable_man_1Thoughts are representations of reality. Thoughts accepted as true become beliefs. Once a belief is accepted, it is established as a fact that is rarely questioned.

What separates a reasonable person from an emotional person isn’t feeling or not feeling. It’s the quality of those thoughts tied to those emotions (source).  The more we believe we know something, the more we ignore contrary information and look for information to confirm our beliefs (confirmation bias).

What we believe is like our personal operating system or window through which we evaluate everything we see.

we-see-as-we-are

Phenomena comes in two types. One type can be verified (ice is cold). The other type can’t be verified (do good and good things happen). Verified things are scientific. Unverified things are philosophical and religious.

morgan-freeman-2Of things that can’t be verified, if it is accepted as self-evidently true, it is religion.

Beliefs carve grooves in our brains. Some beliefs start as theories developed from assumptions, observation and deduction. Some beliefs grow from emotional viewpoints that feel logical.

logicalIn the “Logical Song” Roger Hodgson sings of being taught to be logical: “When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful, a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical. And all the birds in the trees, they’d be singing so happily, oh joyfully, oh playfully watching me. But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical, oh, responsible, practical…clinical, intellectual, cynical” (Supertramp, 1979).

In the song Hodgson wonders who he is and therein is the key. What happens when you notice yourself and what you see?

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source

Poetical philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) said that he not only knew himself as “the scene of thoughts and affections,” but he knew a “doubleness” to being where he could, “stand remote from myself as from another” (Walden and Other Writings, 1950, p. 122). It is from this “doubleness” that we too step back to see how beliefs pull strings.

pinocchioSome beliefs shaped from childhood experiences can block one’s ability to be happy and free, but as Jiminy Cricket advised, “Always let your conscience be your guide!”

That’s especially true when it comes to enjoyment.

In adolescence we start believing in unhappy thinking and consider self-interest as the primary motivator of human behaviour but in so doing the carefree passion that was once natural and easy in childhood gets squashed by social expectations, subtle shame and criticism.

As comedian George Carlin (1937-2008) observed, “Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” Mix one part disillusion with two parts pessimism and you get cynicism, but as Nana Grizol sang it, “Cynicism isn’t wisdom, it’s a lazy way to say that you’ve been burned” (“Cynicism”).

Profound enjoyment combines two awarenesses: an awareness of yourself: “This is me! I’m incredulous! I AM ALIVE! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?” and an awareness of your immediate surroundings wide-eyed in wonder accepting everything as mysterious and better than imagined.

This is when your face goes slack and you see from the sides. It’s when you feel an incomprehensibly beautiful feeling inside.

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Click Here.

If this philosophy is to ring true for you, it will depend upon your preexisting beliefs and ability to lighten up.

The light simply won’t get in if you block the way.

Enjoyment is balancing in a tree. It is imagining yourself as the tree seeing itself feeling the existence of being and the sky above.

bright-star-3
John Keats in a tree and an “Ode to a Nightingale.”

The Men Without Hats advised everybody to look at their hands (“Safety Dance”), so you do, and there, like the poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) who also looked at his hands and saw a hair on the back that was, “just as curious as any revelation,” so too do you.

im-not-contained-between-my-hatYou have The Cure when on Friday you love everything (“Friday I’m in Love”) and, like The Kings, you “mobilize some laughs with just one call” and let “the beat go on” (“The Beat Goes Om”).

And on. And on.

Now Enjoy yourself. That’s an order.

What have you got to lose?

Enjoy A Bad Day

country dance
The Country Dance by Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684 – 1721). Bring it on.

Bad days come and go. That is all there is to know. Life is up and down, ebb and flow. In the mashed potato dance of life you know it’s not all good, but do you know how to enjoy a bad day? Do you know how to make a bad day bearable?

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A bad day made bearable.

First, picture good and bad days as positive and negative polarities in a single process like a magnet. If you cut off the negative polarity on a magnet, a new negative polarity appears. You can’t get rid of a bad day. If you expect only good, you’ll be disappointed.

The trick is to enjoy all the nuances of life (bad days too) and put your philosophical pedal to the metal.

pedal
Rock on. Bang a gong (get it on).

In The Way of Myth Joe Campbell refers to a saying, “Joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.” Life isn’t meant to be happy. That’s not what it’s about. It isn’t about lifestyle choices, convenience and a good golf score. Sorrow is the essence of life. Get into it. That’s what myths are about. A myth asks, “Are you affirmative enough with your relationship to say, Yes! – no matter what?”

Life’s a killer. It’s true. Your body will die. Enjoyment is the ability to absorb the horror of that truth. The question is, “Will your love absorb it?

Go spiritual. Thoughts immaterial. Soul Man. Rock on.

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Chaplin on a bad day in 1916. Bring it on.

Charlie Chaplin said, “Life is a tragedy when seen close-up, but a comedy in long shot.” Unhappy people want the world to be other than it is. Let a bad day be, smile, slam your heart on the table and say, Bring it on.  You can say, This too shall pass! Condition temporary. The world isn’t a problem. Turn your gaze inward and look where you’re looking from. Enjoy your vantage point.

The you that’s looking is the same as it’s been since day one. A 100 year old man feels the same as he did at 15. Forget age. Forget knowledge. Get to the source of it all.

Go graceful. You can dance if you want to.

Forget criticism. Expect nothing. Go blank. Be an idiot. That should be easy. Forget that you’re a third person thing called I, me, and mine. With awareness, imagine reversing your gaze. Look at the looker looking. Look from the source. Give your face away. You don’t own it anyway.

floats your boat
Enjoy a bad day at sea.

Dance to the art of noise. Walk a beat without swinging your arms. Look out the sides of your eyes. What you see is relative to where you are.

Dualists  say that it’s mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. They say the mind is a non-physical thing so put on a sweater and let intellectual powers override threats, problems and difficulties.

dualismMonists say that a whole variety of things could be explained as a single substance or a single thing that we call “the universe.”

Scientists say that every living thing is made of cells which are protein based robots too small to feel anything. Cells have the properties of life but no part of them is alive.

In the short video What is life? a narrator asks, “If everything in the universe is made of the same stuff, does this mean that everything in the universe is dead or that everything in the universe is alive? That it’s just a question of complexity? Does this mean we can never die because we were never alive in the fist place? Is life and death an irrelevant question and we haven’t noticed it yet? Are we much more a part of the universe than we thought?” (kurzgesagt).

bad dats

The Flaming Lips (the band that is) made a free-wheeling song about escaping into dreams on bad days. The chorus goes, “And all your bad days will end. You have to sleep late when you can. And all your bad days will end” (Bad Days). In the video they enjoy an old motel, summer, watermelons and a couple of kids enjoy riding their bikes.

And there it is. It’s as simple as that. Look at the world like a kid. Have no idea. Enjoy.

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17th century consciousness.

Enjoyment isn’t about money or achievement. You don’t need to be smart, strong or even slightly good looking. To enjoy reality, all of it – bad days too! – cleaning teeth and toilets, waiting in lines, getting cancer, losing everything, giving, taking, the whole damn thing! – through it all, whatever happens, let it. Do what you can. Be just and live in heartfelt awareness. Tune your senses to the frequency of the moment like a Nacho Libre Religious man singing, “I am I am!”

Unfettered by fury or despair, open to experience, where death is nothing, the future a concept and compassion a reality, therein find sublime enjoyment. There, like a non-violent pirate say, “Arr! Man, she be good!” You say without fear like a llama going over the falls,Bring it on.

nacho libreYou don’t have to be successful. Just be behind your eyes. Look outward and inward at the same time. Measure success by awareness and an ability to enjoy what comes along – no matter what!

References

Boa, F. (1994). The Way of Myth: Talking With Joseph Campbell. Shambhala Pocket Classics.

Harding, D. E. (2000). Face to No-Face: Rediscovering Our Original Nature. D. Lang (Ed.). Carlsbad, CA.