“If your capacity to acquire has outstripped your capacity to enjoy, you are on your way to the scrap-heap” (Glen Buck).
MANY, IF NOT MOST, AMERICANS WOULD HAVE TO PLEAD GUILTY. We have an almost unlimited “capacity to acquire” but a shockingly small “capacity to enjoy.” With credit cards and one-click ordering, our purchasing power is almost mind-boggling, but once we’ve gotten it, all that stuff seems strangely unsatisfying. For “consumers” like us, enjoyment never seems to keep up with acquisition.
So it is obvious: “having” and “enjoying” are two different things. Getting what we want does not guarantee we’ll have the power to enjoy it. Sometimes it is circumstances beyond our control that prevent us from enjoying things that otherwise might have been enjoyable, but more often the non-enjoyment is our own fault: we don’t enjoy what’s ours because we don’t savor it consciously and mindfully.
Enjoyment is not an end in itself, of course, nor is it an unqualified good. Whether it is good depends, for the most part, on the moral quality of the thing we’re enjoying. But even when the thing itself is good and honorable, enjoyment is more a byproduct than it is an object of direct pursuit. Like happiness, enjoyment usually comes to us while we’re busy paying attention to more important goals.
But I think there is a sense in which enjoyment should have a higher priority. As I suggested above, we should more deliberately savor the experiences we find ourselves involved in. Not just on special occasions but every day, we would do well to taste life more deeply. And we dare not wait until all our obstacles have been cleared away. “A contented man is the one who enjoys the scenery along the detours.”
So I ask you to join me in a commitment. Let’s resolve that we will truly enjoy whatever should be enjoyed each day. Our blessings must not be allowed to slip by unused, unappreciated, and unenjoyed. They’re only ours for a little while, so let’s not waste them. Let’s grasp the life that is ours individually, in all of its abundance and possibility, and open our hearts more fully to the goodness of “ordinary” things.
He prayed for all things that he might enjoy life;
He was given life that he might enjoy all things.
He received nothing that he asked for — but all that he hoped for.