We absolutely insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world’s troubles on our shoulders… [W]e think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness…
We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. We cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us. But it is clear that we made our own misery. God didn’t do it. Avoid then the deliberate manufacture of misery, but if trouble comes, cheerfully capitalize it as an opportunity to demonstrate His omnipotence.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, The Family Afterward
We are meant to enjoy life. For many of us, this concept has been lost. Our parents didn’t know it, didn’t know how to pass it on, weren’t able to find it for themselves. Schools and churches certainly don’t know how to teach it, nor do most of them even try. ‘Self-help’ books are mostly concerned with fixing what’s wrong with us, with the idea that if we fix enough of these “wrong” things, some form of happiness may arise.
So how do we ‘insist on enjoying life,’ when for some, the idea itself is unacceptable? For example, the generation of my father had the idea that:
- a) seeking enjoyment was somehow unmanly. To be a man was to suffer, at least to some degree (This is easy to understand when you throw in a World War when so many lost so much.);
- b) enjoyment is what you get to have after all the work is done – not during work, not in between tasks. Work should hurt. If it doesn’t, you’re not working hard enough; and
- c) this enjoyment that occurs after work (which could mean a weekend for some, but for a farmer, as my father was, meant winter, i.e. after harvest) this enjoyment takes the form of getting out of pain. Getting away from life and responsibility, and finding some measure of unconsciousness – drinking, gambling, etc.
Some of us were raised with this as our model for appropriate behavior. Along with the opposite side of it, i.e. the long-suffering of my mother at the effect of her man’s behavior. Taken all together, this is a guarantee for even more suffering in my generation.
Fortunately for us, meditation helps to dissolve these teachings and structures in our consciousness. These are stresses that keep us from knowing we are meant to enjoy life, and nature wants us to be free of them. Nature wants us to grow, to evolve, to expand, and it will release these stresses from us, simply by the fact of our sitting to meditate for 20 minutes, twice each day.
And then it is up to us, on a daily basis, to retrain ourselves out of these strange ideas of life that have been passed on to us, and toward joy. We insist on enjoyment. We learn happiness and freedom and insist upon nothing less. During work, during the week, in the midst of our most trying times. We become present and at least find the way to suggest to ourselves that enjoyment might be possible. Even now.
Today I will insist on enjoying life, at least for one moment.