The spin class is taught by a funny, cheerful guy with a longstanding following, and his classes are fun and popular -- so much that his wife always attends class too. They've been married over 30 years and have a grandson, who the instructor shows pictures of in every class. During class, the teacher makes jokes and says things about his wife, like kidding that she's going to lead the class in the next sing-a-long. She laughs and shyly accepts the attention, never certain what he's going to say, but comfortable in his adoration.
It got me thinking. The few couples I've known who've been together for multiple decades have obviously survived a lot. They're past the stresses of childraising, they've come to terms with their differences, time has made major issues fade. And they enjoy each other.
During spin class, I thought about that for a while: being "enjoyed." Being appreciated...well no, appreciation is different, that implies a specific action that should be acknowledged.
When I think about things like this, I know how much I am my father's daughter. My Dad would have spent hours philosophizing the finer points of "enjoy" versus "delight" versus "surprise" versus "appreciation." (I always knew he totally enjoyed me, even while I drove him crazy....)
I think the word "enjoy" connotes relaxation, a total lack of effort, ubiquity, naturalness; that feeling happy about something or someone is a guttural response, lacking analysis and rumination; an uncontrived, unadulterated good feeling. We enjoy pets that way, for instance....(well, until they poop on our beds).
Have I, as an individual, ever "felt" enjoyed? Sure, by friends and family, and sometimes by coworkers too.
But what by about by a life's partner, someone you spend every day with, share the little bits of life with, who sees all sides of you? That's a much higher standard than a friend afternoon catching up over coffee enjoying your company. Maybe "enjoyment" is such a high standard that it should be reserved for people who don't actually have to live with each other.
Still, I think I do remember feeling truly "enjoyed." I do remember things I said randomly laughed at, being smiled at for no other reason than I was just being me, being accompanied on a silly endeavour just because a mood hit. That's feeling like you're creating enjoyment for someone else just by being yourself. That's really, really hard to remember or imagine right now, but it does ring bells from days far, far past...so it's remarkable seeing how clear and natural it is for other people.
Saturday morning spinning is still a compromise to running, but I do so enjoy seeing this man truly enjoy his revered, cherished wife -- of 30+ years. (Dad, I know you're laughing good-naturedly at me right now!)