Two 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.
They 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.
It’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 a philosophy of enjoyment blog. Does a blog like that or a trending story like the one you're reading now help or is it like John Steinbeck said in 1961, “No one wants advice, only corroboration”?
Because you can set the stage for enjoyment like they do in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, but whether you get it or not, depends.
There’s a knack to it.
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!).
From 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.
It’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.
Life 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.
That 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 article, you can be completely aware of yourself in the place you are. Seeing with these eyes. The voice you hear is your own.
Image: 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 up-downs.
Image: 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).
So, 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).