Pleasure is coming from the strangest places lately.
There’s the typical sources of pleasure and satisfaction from biological needs like eating, drinking, physical exercise and the like; but then there’s another realm that’s opening up that is artistic in nature, and some emotional pleasure that is inextricably linked to finding a renewed source of inner peace and satisfaction as I transition into middle age.
Now before you start thinking that I’ve gone off the deep end and are starting to wax philosophical just stop there, that’s not my modus operandi. I’m not a woo woo spiritual, healing crystals, drum circle type of person. My ex used to say that I have one feeling, and that I wasn’t capable of experiencing more than one feeling at a time. It became a family joke told repeatedly to perfect strangers at parties. I guess in her eyes I wasn’t very deep or complex. I used to wonder if that was a projection of herself, or did she simply not see me as a thinking feeling person.
Lately I find that I can have a spiritual experience with a hot cup of creamy dark hot chocolate on a cold morning walk, or a candlelight soak in a hot bath late on those rare evenings when I’m alone in the house with only the dogs for company. I can be brought to tears by a performance at the symphony, that perfectly sung note that makes the skin on your arms tingle, or a well written paragraph, or a mischievous smile in the eyes of a loved one. I am also rediscovering that I love getting totally lost for hours in a great book.
I recently finished listening to a book on tape called “Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. As you probably know I love TED talks, and the author did a 20 minute Ted talk presentation on the book, afterwards I couldn’t wait to find and devour every single word. I enjoyed it so much, I listened to the audio-book twice.
In the book the author writes that those things that you envy in other people are the things that you want the most for yourself. I’m oversimplifying her argument but I think its relevant to this blog post so bear with me for a moment. In the book the author discusses speaking with colleagues about other classmates from law school, and the success of her classmates with their subsequent skyrocketing careers in the field of Law. When one classmate had an exceptional accomplishment such as arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court, Susan found that instead of being envious, she was happy for them, and proud of their accomplishments. When she evaluated this further she found that she had no interest in being that person, in arguing that case, or finding that kind of prestige in the field. What she really wanted to do was something else altogether. So she started looking at the people and things that she envied or cherished, and discovered that what she really wanted to spend her time doing was more sedate and boring perhaps, but also more fulfilling to her personally. If your curious about her revelations, read the book.
Have you ever heard or read something that transformed the way you see your life? Ever overhear a statement about you that sticks in your mind and ultimately becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy? Yeah, me neither.
Having had this insight, I find that I’ am actively looking for things and people who I envy. That’s not to say that I want to live in another persons shoes, or would trade places with any other human being; I wouldn’t. What I’m saying is that I’m at a crossroads of sorts, and I’m actively looking for a new direction that is more satisfying than that path that I’ve chosen to leave behind.
More often than not I’m finding envy in the written word: authors that get under my skin, poems that use the right word in the right places; and in art: photographs that capture not only whats in front of the lens but also in the mind’s eye, or abstract images that contain an emotional charge.
Oddly enough I’m finding pleasure in the my search for envy.