Pleasure

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Latin again? 🙂 Well, yes, although English just mangled a French version of it. But oh, just the research of it was indeed its name. I have read about Hedonism, Schopenhauer, Buddhism and I have just scratched the surface of a word expressing something that is so intuitively normal that one has to wonder at the amount of paperwork that exists in order to analyze, explain, opine or otherwise debate the subject. Basic or elevated, frowned upon or exalted, pleasure has baffled many and upset even more 🙂

And isn’t it ironic that what I heard about people like Schopenhauer, while remaining true or at least truthful, comes nowhere near the begrudging agreement with some of the ideas of the man himself 🙂 Out of my comfort zone? Well, yes, I am an agnostic, compassionate, cynical humanist, of course some of those ideas take me out of my comfort zones. It is easy to call him a mysoginist when I was born so deep in my century that I have no idea about his world. Anyhoo, back to pleasure…

Besides being normal (not only in the absence of pain) pleasure is of course individual. De gustibus… and all that. And I have always enjoyed hearing about but have never practiced the list making of pleasurable things, to be taken out and explored when the road ahead of us is rough. I never practiced it because I seem to just do it. Like the baby of the zodiac that I am, I do not have to learn to be in the moment, because that is where I am 🙂

If you have been in pleasurable contact with babies and animals, then you know all about the luxurious stretching, the trusting floppiness that signals impending sleep, the silly expressions and strange positions that seem to give them an inordinate amount of pleasure. But even for me (self described as happy) it is easy to differentiate between happiness and pleasure. Different ends of the spectrum, different stage of being, different intensity and emotional involvement… really, more differences than similarities!

Bone tired and snuggling into a warm bed is so pleasant I wriggle about trying to feel it with all my body. But learning a new thing or having old things rearranged into a new scenery raises that pleasure into happiness.

A song heard for the first time and immediately liked can keep me humming for hours, even days. But a piece of music that reminds me of a friend, of times of joy, of love requited, albeit lost… ah, that is treasure indeed, and so much more than pleasure.

The little things that children do, making something with my own hands (jam, a scarf, a puzzle), a plant that was almost dead but in the spring pulls through, “these are a few of my favourite things” 🙂

But seeing the little one grow, writing a poem or cooking my own produce… these I put on the same level as those dreams I have of travelling and absorbing art and walking with a friend through rain and wind while discussing the state of the world as we know it…

I guess what I am trying to say is that pleasure can make life bearable. But for true living, it is not enough, not even nearly…

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Stranger

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I was talking to a friend about love. He was not in a good space for other reasons, but the conversation veered naturally towards this subject.

Both of us are people who love intensely and yet the discussion quickly outlined almost opposite perspectives. You would have thought we were discussing different things altogether. What it boiled down to (for me) was the difference between yourself and a stranger. People both. Same blood, same organs, same facial expressions, living in the same world. And still, a world apart in everything that matters.

I cannot differentiate between love and myself. I do not see the border. For him, love seemed always an intrusion, not unwelcome but not of yourself, separate.

Love brings me understanding (can I understand without love? Can I love without understanding? Unlikely…). Love brings him uncertainty and frustration because of that.

Love is my normality. I feel as if everything is just right in the world. Not better than they should be, just right, the way they are supposed to be, therefore normal. For him, love is the ultimate adventure, everything that normal isn’t. A state out of calm, unsettled.

Both of us are possessive people. Both of us like control, perhaps too much so. We like analyzing ourselves and others and making assumptions (see above 😛 ).

Do either of us grok love? (Darling R.A. Heinlein, English was poorer before your Martian!)

Should we try to persuade each other that love is not what we think it is? Should we try to call ourselves naïve or cynical? Should we encourage ourselves to find a middle ground?

A teacher of mine gave me a definition that has stayed with me ever since. She told me that there is no point trying to differentiate between types of love (parental, filial, romantic, religious), that all of us have not one heart, but rather a tree full of hearts, with some of them bigger and some of them falling to the ground dessicated. It was an acceptance of love in all its many shapes, and I stand by it. There is a Japanese concept (Anime?) of a tree of hearts but I am not sure if it tries to describe the same things. Alexander McCall Smith also says that the heart has many chambers (can’t find the quote just now). And I tried to take Tolkien’s “One ring” rhyme and substitute love for ring. It sounded just as uncomfortable.

Maybe the Western concept of the love singularity merits a revision. Incidentally, Eurythmics have a song called “Love is a stranger” that seems to sum this concept up. On the other hand my darling Heinlein, quoted above, also stated that the more you love, the more you can love, and, given enough time, you can love everyone that is good and kind.

Who to believe? Where to turn?

Love?

WHAT IS IT?