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Without further ado I dedicate the rest of 2016 to pure pleasure. If politics is the malady, happiness and personal fellowship is the remedy. The election will not dominate my December. The inauguration and the results will come soon enough for me. What I do best is cook and entertain. The drudgery of politics not only bores me, but usually astounds me with the futility of it all. I have spent some time trying to change the political horizon during my life, but I now look upon all that time as a monumental waste. I could have been just living my life in the most pleasurable way possible at the time. This investment would serve me better than taking time to convince others to participate in political causes. Being happy and free is where it is at.
When I use the word hedonism I mean only fun. I do not mean overindulgence to the point of ruining all the good times. This common mistake has given fun a bad name. Addiction is perhaps the shadow side of hedonism, but it is not pleasurable. Fun is only fun when it is well managed. Well executed pleasurable pursuits provide stimulus to all the senses and a feeling of time well spent. It can be a week in Thailand or a walk around the block. The difference between the ordinary and the hedonistic is attention to detail. Wear what you want, see what you like to see, eat what delights you, linger over what intrigues you without trespassing on the pleasure of others. Travel to your own happy place. This will require that you get to know your own true preferences, which will naturally change over time. Self care for a teen is different than it will be when that person turns 65. We must evolve with our own best interests in mind.
My good friend and neighbor and I have opposing political views. We never need to talk about politics at all. If we do we joke about how crazy people are. We have much in common, including an interest in cooking and cuisines. To celebrate Heidi’s birthday we visited one of my favorite stores in Tucson, Alfonso’s Olive Oil, for a tasting of their vast selection. It was a blast for me to introduce her to this wonderland of flavor and my great pleasure to buy her first bottle to start her own specialty oil and vinegar collection. We tasted all over the store for a long time before she came to a decision. She wisely selected the classic best unflavored dark balsamic vinegar because she can infuse it herself if she wants. The vinegar she chose is exquisite, deep, complex, fruity….everything you want in a vinegar. I was happy to buy the gift, but more happy to introduce her to someplace she did not previously know. Then we had lunch, also very good. The balsamic birthday will go down as a complete success with little effort or expense on anyone’s part. It was all about the discovery.
I suggest you look into your heart and decide what makes you happy. Just do that, gentle reader. Start with that.
I am a hedonist. This archetype is a prominent part of my persona. I don’t mind being considered to be a Sybarite. I think I might inspire some people to experiment with allowing a little bit more pleasure into life when they see it does not seem to do me any harm. Art, taste, harmony of elements are all of great importance to me. Often it is much better for me to go to a museum alone because I normally want to stay at least twice as long as most others. I also adore very long, lingering dining experiences that are memorable because of the good company and good cheer. My good friend and fellow hedonist Eric Ellenberg and I once went to the restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center for lunch (long before 9-11). The food and the view were grand. We stayed for hours and I remember it vividly. I have always been happy we went because now we could not if we tried. Most full on pleasurable experiences can’t be repeated. The synchronicity of the moment and all its glory comprise the ecstasy we feel, but that does not mean we should not plan and create pleasurable times. Authenticity is the main ingredient of truly memorable fun times. Holiday excess and obligation often conflict with inner peace and joy. Here are some ways to be festive without breaking the bank or cramming the schedule full of stressful events:
This season many Americans go into deeper debt. From now until next year we will be bombarded with advertising designed to drive the economy. This year you can avoid buyer’s remorse and debt by lighting your own way through the cold winter’s night. Be particular instead of excessive. Use discernment to create gifts and experiences that show how much you appreciate individual taste. I wish all the Gentle Readers good health and financial freedom this winter. Stay solvent, my friends. It is much more festive in the long run.