Monday, April 12, 2010


Having recently rediscovered this photo that I took last year, I have been giving a lot of thought to not only the pleasures of nature, but also to the nature of pleasure. We are conditioned to be pleasure-seekers, which means, of course, that we are always expecting that something in the future will provide the satisfaction of our desires. Get that, go there, do that -- we tell ourselves -- and we will be happy and need nothing more.

Ah, but there's the rub. As the masters of advertising know so well, we are conditioned to believe that we will always need something more. Satisfy one desire and, like the hydra-headed monster fought by Hercules, two more desires will arise to replace it, forcing us once again to put more of our attention into the future and less into the present.

I recognize, of course, that some degree of planning is required for an orderly and fulfilling life, and, like most people, I will continue to look forward to the anticipated pleasures of the future. What I am learning, however, is that the greatest of pleasures come unexpectedly, wending their way into the heart before the judgmental mind has its say. Maybe it's the kind eyes of the nameless stranger who seemed to know you at some intuitive level. Maybe it's the dog basking in the backyard sun after a swim in the river. Maybe it's the dragonfly resting on your hand, its silent presence calling you to the here and now.

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