Why does pleasure matter, anyway?
I’ve got a whole website here, devoted to pleasure, which sounds shallow and materialistic and a whole host of other things, if you let it.
But I don’t let it.
Because that’s missing the point entirely.
Pleasure matters because it matters, because it’s part of the human experience, because it brings balance. But it also matters because it matters, because it’s the first way we learn to tell up from down, good from bad. It matters because it tells us where to go next.
You know what job you should have, what foods you should eat, what clothes you should wear (or at least you recognize them when you see them). You know when you should exercise.
You know who you love.
Commitment is effortless.
And pleasure is everywhere.
and when you’re in that state, you can seduce the world to share what you’ve got.
because who doesn’t want that?
The world becomes a better place when everyone knows what pleasure feels like and can hear it whisper in their veins.
When I say, “you’ll know” it doesn’t mean “you’ll like it”
you might discover that your partner isn’t a good fit.
you might discover that you’re in the wrong job
you might discover that you shouldn’t be vegetarian or that you have to move to the coast.
(ask me how I know)
but you might discover how to be blissfully happy in yourself, without changing your job or your partner or anything else that matters to you.
if you had a brand new, smoking hot lover standing behind your chair kissing your neck, you probably wouldn’t stay on facebook very long, would you?
because the pleasure centers in your brain know they’ve got better odds by turning around
but the truth is your pleasure centers have better odds almost all the time
you’ve just numbed yourself to them
so you sit in front of the screen
trying to get the hit
just a little more
a little more
a little more pleasure
but when you drop into your body and really relearn what pleasure feels like and how to follow it (and not ignore it) then you get your ass out of the chair unless there’s a compelling reason to stay there.
because you feel discomfort
that’s the catch
when you learn what pleasure feels like you become aware of not-pleasure
and you notice, for example, that those impulses to fidget are actually a desire to move your body (exercise! shhhhh.)
so then you stop sitting in the chair because you want to move.
You get up and boogie for fifteen minutes. You WANT to exercise.
then you notice you’re having a sensation in your digestive tract.
but you take the time to notice that it’s not a desire for chocolate, it’s really that you want a glass of water. (boogieing is hard work)
so you drink water and notice how full you feel and how good it feels so you drink another glass.
Then you wiggle your toes because you notice the linoleum.
Just the other day I noticed (I’m always barefoot at home) how greasy the floor felt near the stove…for the first time. I’ve been living here for three years. There’s always more to notice.
That noticing made me want to clean the floor.
Let me repeat that: WANT TO clean the floor.
because I noticed the unpleasant sensation under my feet.
(I’m tactile, the visual doesn’t get me as much and besides, the grease was invisible.)
I bought some Sweet William at the nursery, know why? Because it SMELLED GOOD.
now I’m torn between putting it where i can see it and putting it where its scent will come in the windows
so now I’m planting flowers. Because pleasure.
And meditation: could be boring, except when you’re present with the sensations, it’s anything but. Now it’s a total trip through what might be called being turned on, if only turned on weren’t restricted to sex. Because the energy buildup and flow…not just for sex anymore. Not just for anything. Because it’s everything.
So now: I want to meditate. I want to exercise. I want to eat carrots and salad.
the desire for food, sleep, water, and sex are all RIGHT next to each other in the brain.
So you think you’re hungry when you’re tired.
Or when you’re thirsty
Or when you need sex.
That “hungry look” in the eyes of your lover? Only kind of a metaphor.
And finally there’s this:
We do three things that turn that-which-is-not-us into that-which-is-us: eat, breathe, have sex.
Something outside of is is welcomed in and becomes part of us. (Folks of all genders, if this is not your experience of lovemaking, let’s talk. Quick no-strings fucks are a different story.)
I talk about this when I do communion services and boy howdy do I get some freaked out looks
then I ask people to serve communion to each other
UUs don’t do communion often
but that’s what it is
this is the most sacred of acts
taking something into our bodies is a holy moment
a breaching of boundaries
a union of something holy
it is a moment of transformation, of creation, of life.
Why does pleasure matter? Because with pleasure, everything else becomes crystal clear. Pleasure is an experience.
Pleasure is a lens.
Pleasure is a passage.
Pleasure is home.
And when you’ve found pleasure for yourself, you can draw it out in others. And that makes the whole world better.