I am daring to think of things that give me pleasure, that take me outside of the metes and bounds of intellect, to please my body and my soul. I struggle with knowing the things that really please me, rather than the things that I should like. I know the things that make other people smile, think well of me, and find me interesting. I close my eyes and float through sense memories to find those moments when I was fully alive, not in control, receiving without filter what makes me vibrate, spark and feel that whoosh of possibility.
There is a moment in listening to music when it builds to a moment of ecstasy both holy and sensual. There is a moment in a movement of one of the Brahms symphonies where the sun breaks through the clouds, and it is impossible not to feel the presence of divinity. There are passages in Vaughn Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” when I can close my eyes and soar, without irony or self consciousness, like the lark herself. There is a time in Schoenberg’s “Transfigured Night” where the tension breaks, and with it all the closed things inside of me open wide to receive life again. It's all pleasure, real and powerful.
There are times when I get a response from a small child, or an animal, a creature untrained in pleasing and social quid pro quo, that fill me with a liquid kind of joy. Nothing is owed me, there is no calculation of my merit, it is a simple exchange of a funny face for a delighted smile, a purr for a well-placed scratch. They are free to walk away, these self-contained and unspoiled spirits, but if I give them pleasure, make them want to stay by my side, there is a perfect circle made. They choose me, and I feel warm, and bright and open.
There are colors, the colors of vintage linens, boxes of crayons, rows of fabric, yarn or lipstick that make me unbearably happy. I am transported by lines in movies, the moment in “To Kill a Mockingbird” when somebody in the courtroom balcony, I think Calpurnia, says to Jem and Scout “stand up, your father’s passing." The scene in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” when Hamish’s lover recites Auden, his voice breaking. The St. Crispian’s Day speech in Branagh’s “Henry V,” and the burial after the Battle of Agincourt. There is no irony in those things, nothing hip, nothing arch, and no detachment. They are life distilled, and my helpless and total absorption is a message from my true center to the brain that judges sentiment so very harshly.
I am sometimes delighted to look down and remember that I painted my toenails a glittery, cerulean blue, and that there, at the ends of my own, lumpy white feet are jewels.
There is a moment when I am lying in bed with no serious plans, the sun is shining on me through the window, I am not looking at Facebook, reading a magazine or thinking about anything much, and I stretch luxuriously. I am wholly in my body, and pleased to float and muse.
There are other things, the smell of fresh, good coffee, the kinetic energy of a tiny fiddlehead fern, the feeling of coming into a warm house after shoveling snow, lights on a Christmas tree, little girls in party dresses, a cool shower with peppermint soap on a hot day, getting a present in the mail, the release of a thunderstorm after a day of muggy moodiness, the smell when the curry spices hit the hot pan…it comes to me, this pleasure, unbidden, unearned, so often wadded up and thrown away in the course of sorting through what’s Real and Important.
Pleasure is Real and Important.
What’s your pleasure?