Monday, July 6, 2009

"Why don't you give yourself over Pleasure?!"

Jim Styro's Meaning Of Life, Part Thirteen

I'm just about smack dab in the middle of a two-week vacation. So far, I have enjoyed myself immensely - golfing, talking, eating, golfing, drinking, listening to music, golfing, shopping, watching films...and golfing. Tomorrow, Larry and I plan to...go golfing. The truth is that we have been ordered to go golfing by our wives - because they want go putzing around in thrift shops tomorrow and don't want us messing it up for them. I secretly suspect that Larry would prefer to hit the thrift shops with the women - but I figure we can hit the thrift shops too (after our round). So hopefully, I can make it up to him.

It will be my sixth day of golf in the past eleven days - which is certainly a personal best for me (depending on how you look at it). I've actually been slacking in the Golf Dept. since we got to Petoskey last Thursday - but there's no way I could have continued the torrid pace of play from last week (five rounds in six days) without my arms falling off. Anyway, I love golf - not because I golf well - because a golf course is just a beautiful place to be. Beautifully green, well-tended, often with rolling hills, trees, a pond or stream here and there. It is the height of luxury, I think, to spend a few hours where the only concern is trying to knock a small white ball into a slightly larger hole.

That thought leads me towards a whole series of ideas concerning enjoyment, vacations, pleasure and leisure, which all touch upon the question:
What is The Secret to enjoying yourself?

We've touched upon some aspects to the question in our past MOL discussions -

You've got to know what you enjoy, what will make you happy.

You've got to align your expectations to reality.

It helps to have people around you who desire your happiness and want to share it.

But being in my current circumstance (in the middle of a two-week vacation with good friends, no responsibilities and the means to do nearly anything I desire) highlights one overriding consideration concerning The Secret:
Will I allow myself to have a good time?

For in much the same way the a person can look a golf course and appreciate the natural beauty, feel exhilaration in the challenge of the game itself, or just enjoy a few hours spent with a buddy in the fresh air - another might focus only on shots that went awry, the cost of the golf balls that were lost, or how fast/slow the greens were playing. Any of these elements may reflect the reality of the experience - but our enjoyment of the experience is based just as much (if not more) on which elements we CHOOSE TO focus on.

Why would we EVER choose to focus on the negative aspects of the experience? Perhaps because the overwhelming majority of elements of an experience were "bad" (or did not meet our expectation). But is other cases, it may be that our attitude was not shaped by the experience (we don't feel good because so many bad things actually happened) - but rather, our attitude shaped the experience (we "knew" beforehand things would go badly, things happened, we decided they were bad, repeat Steps 1,2, and 3). Maybe I don't really believe I deserve a nice vacation. Maybe I don't think I've earned the right to enjoy myself. In my experience, people don't always need a good reason to punish themselves.

So perhaps the first element in enjoying yourself is to remember or decide that - it's OK to have a good time. It's allowed.

Perhaps this is only an issue of middle-aged, white American men - but I doubt it.

Lest you be concerned: I am not having any problems along these lines. In the words of Elwood P. Dowd, "I have a wonderful time, wherever I am, whoever I'm with." Of course, Elwood drank.

But so do I.

Take care.

PS: I may write some more about this. Or I may be having too much fun on vacation. You never know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vacation is a time for not asking existentialist questions. Give yourself a break and have a good time.