We’ve just wrapped up friendships, and now it’s time to take a look at the virtue of pleasure, which contains the elements of adventure and recharge.

VirtueSub-ProjectExplanation
Pleasure
I pursue activities for their own sake.
Some might say I grow old disgracefully
adventureTaking risks and having international vacations.
rechargeResting, relaxing, recharging.

When I talk about excellence in pleasure, I’m not talking debauched sensual pleasures, fun though that sounds.  I’m thinking about the satisfaction that comes from overcoming obstacles.  Or from watching the sun set into the sea.  The sort of things that get me off my arse and away from the tv (or internet).  Though should I sit to read a novel, or lie in a bubble bath that is another thing entirely.

Not that I am suggesting a target of say 3.5 units of pleasure a day, I don’t think that kind of goal is possible.  But I could keep doing what I do now – seeking out opportunities for pleasure, and take advantage of them when I find them.  For example, I try to always see touring exhibitions of things that I wouldn’t otherwise get to see:

  • In 2012 I saw a fascinating collection of paintings and Napoleon memorabilia on loan from the Foundation Napoleon in Paris.  I heard the music written for his coronation, I saw his (and Josephine’s) clothes, and jewels, and furniture.  A really satisfying amount of diverse objects.  Oddly enough, I am about the same height and size as he was.  I recall it as a very pleasant day.
  • 2013 I saw an exhibition of pictures of Monet’s Garden , on loan from the Musée Marmottan.  The paintings are so amazing close-up – the colour of the light, the texture of the brush strokes.  The coloured prints are such a poor representation, they just don’t do them justice – it’s like looking at 6 x 4 photos of the Grand Canyon.  I am still a little in awe of what I’ve seen.
  • Earlier this year I saw the Italian Masters on loan from the Spanish Court.  I was really looking forward to seeing the pictures…  I’m not sure if my baby cataracts are starting to impact on my light/dark perception, but I found the pictures very dark and it was difficult to see the detail.  Perhaps they were painted dark on purpose, or perhaps they were stored and maintained inadequately, but whatever the reason, I found them disappointing.  Well not disappointing per se, more that the pictures were not to my taste, and in its own way that gives me the smug pleasure of confirming my own taste.

You can see from these examples, that my idea of pleasure has an amount of overlap with friendship and wisdom.  And that’s ok.  I’ve already said that I don’t believe we can exist in isolation, and I’ve described my life as a tangled ball of string so it’s not inconsistent.  Not to mention that the virtues are a decision framework as well as guiding principles.

But back to developing excellence in pleasure…

For me (right now) pleasure comes in two strands – revving up (adventure) and chilling out (recharge).

Pleasureable Adventures

Oddly, given the post-transplant difficulties, adventure is simplicity itself.   As well as the odd international vacation, it’s about taking risks and challenging myself to expand my boundaries.  Doing some of those things I’ve been wanting to do.  To this end, I challenge you to come up with some challenges for me.  Within reason.  Just send me an email.

Recharging for Pleasure

I’m not sure why I find recharge such a hard thing.  I am usually quite good about sitting around not doing much more than thinking.  I dare say we all struggle a little with doing things just for ourselves.  But I’m going to put baths in this category, glasses of wine at the beach, afternoon naps.

Maybe this is more about guilty pleasures – a few stolen moments when we could be doing something more productive.  REJOICING when the train is delayed and there is NOTHING to do.

So upshot of pleasure

  • seek out new experiences
  • find things to do that don’t involve tv (or deity of choice forbid, the internet)
  • make time to do unproductive things

How do you feel about that?  What would you set as a target for pleasure?  Does making time for pleasure cross your mind at all, or are you caught up in the busyness if life?

Next time I’ll be looking at wisdom


My grumpy face – interrupted while trying to read c. April 1994.


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