The English dictionary defines pleasure as something that gives you a feeling of enjoyment or contentment. For me pleasure is something I do for the sake of feeling happy, something that I enjoy doing more than I enjoy the final product.
A wise young man once told me “the journey is my destination”. Let me modify that slightly and say “the journey is my pleasure”. Let’s take this literally first. As a kid the best part of my vacation was the train travel. Climbing on the upper berth of the train, all the yummy packed food but still buying from the vendors, the antakshari and the games. Wow! Just writing about this is pleasurable. Sometimes reaching the destination was anticlimactic. If I were to ever write a travel blog mine would begin and end with the journey. Even a short school picnic was about the fun that we had in the bus during travel.
Now let’s look at the statement figuratively. Do you enjoy doing something so much that the final product doesn’t matter? I immensely enjoy cooking. I love how simple small ingredients need to come together in just the right proportion to get the perfect blend. How something needs to be added just to balance out the effect of something else. Kind of like our life and relationship isn’t it (sorry the psychologist in me sometimes just overrules my other personalities ;-). It just means I enjoy the analysis part of my work more than the talking part). Back to the point, the cooking of the dish is much more pleasurable to me than actually eating it. And that has nothing to do with how it turns out. Others eat it and survive!
The point that I am trying to make in all my ramblings is that an act is pleasurable only if you enjoyed doing it irrespective of how it ends up. Sadly, this definition of pleasure is somewhere lost today.
Hobbies or leisure time today is much more about the end result or worse how much learning potential the activity has. I have heard parents discussing which hobby classes the kid should go to? Hobby class!! That’s one oxymoron that I hate. Isn’t a hobby something that you do the way you like? This statement often gets me the “don’t be a moron look”. So the hobby class, it’s not about what the child enjoys doing. It’s more about how the activity contributes to the child’s overall development and improves his/ her cognitive functions and yes also helps him/her academically. After all I just don’t want my kid to do well in studies he should be good in everything. Sigh!!
So the kid plays basketball to improve his physique and hand eye co-ordination, learns dancing to improve his body posture and draws to improve concentration. And what does he do for fun? Oh I allow him to watch TV for an hour to relax. How considerate.
I did all of the above for fun and manage to have a successful life!
And is traveling a pleasure today? The first item packed while packing for a holiday is some gadget. To keep the kid entertained during the journey. What happened to looking out of the window? And there was this parent who said; oh I encourage my child to look out of the window. I have him read all the names of the stations to improve his reading skill. I wish there was an emoticon to show head banging.
Never mind the kids. The adults too deny themselves pleasure. Take the first pleasure of life…..food. I met this woman who said she loves to eat. I enthusiastically got into the conversation about foods. (I don’t learn from past mistakes because my mother did not enroll me any cognitive development classes). So she eats but only “healthy” alternatives. Meaning? Pav bhaji without the butter and aloo paratha made in olive oil and cake made of wheat. It’s not as good as the original but its healthy, a good compromise. I think I rather live on bread and water.
I told a young guy suffering from anxiety to develop a hobby. He came back to me saying that it makes me more anxious. I started playing the guitar but I am not good at it. It makes me feel worthless. Why do you have to be good at it? He looked at me as if I was the one who needed urgent psychiatric intervention “Isn’t that the point of learning it?” No the point of learning is to play it without looking for a point.
Why is it so difficult for people to understand that it’s not important to be good at a thing to enjoy it. Why can’t we enjoy making a mess? Singing a famous song off tune, eating the good parts of a burnt cake, drawing pink and purple animals, laughing over stupid jokes…are these just nostalgic parts of my childhood?
I don’t deny the need to have a goal or an ambition. What I object to is to consider the achievement of that goal to be the only source of pleasure. The goals of our life will keep changing. Once I achieve my initial goal I will create another one. It is in the scheme of life to want more. I just wish one of our goals is to have fun along the way. To admire the imperfection takes more cognitive skill and talent than to admire perfection. Where would you have more fun in a perfect well kept garden where you need to keep off the grass or an open ground where you can run to your heart’s content ignoring the weeds?
Go ahead make a mess. Remember the earth came out from the mess too.
Writing this article was an act of pleasure but I hope I got my point across too.