Thriving Mindfully

Author: Sreenath Sreenivasan (Page 2 of 23)

The brotherhood of colours

Once, the colours in the palette entered into a fight
Arguing who among them held dominion over light

Each colour was busy singing its own praises
They came forward one by one to present their cases

The Vainglorious Violet was dressed in its regal pride
He was drunk in his glory, haughty in every stride

Said Indian Indigo, hail ! I colour the scrolls with ink
I’m the blood of books, Every pen’s favourite drink

Said Bubbling Blue, I colour the sky and all the depths marine
I am cool and composed, comforting and serene

Said Glorious Green, look around, I am half of the Earth’s hood
Without me, there won’t be any forests or food

Said Yelping Yellow, of golden ancestry, I am second to none
I drape the world every day with the light of the sun

Said an Ordained Orange, I am the colour of every higher pursuit
Am I not the only colour that’s also a fruit?

Said Raging Red, ‘Stop the Quarrel !’ with all its might
It flashed the danger light to put an end to the fight

‘Who’s the best colour of them all?’ they had to find a solution
The colours entered the ‘prism of peace’ to find a resolution

Tranquil was the arena, from the prism as they emerged
They blended as one light, in harmony they merged

Awestruck they wondered if they’d lost their traits respective
As they joined hands and entered another ‘prism of perspective’

And slowly, from the inverted prism, as they made their way out
The arena dazzled in the light of a brilliant rainbow spout!

And nobody cared finally, which colour had won
As colours joined hands cherishing the spirit of being one !

On smiling and laughter

A welcoming smile, a moment of laughter…such priceless gifts of expression.
A life bereft of either of these expressions is absolutely unimaginable. When you smile with a loving intent, your eyes gleam and invite others around you to borrow a part of your disarming expression. A smile makes it presence felt first in the eyes. The face merely dons a charm to feel consonant with the way the heart feels at that moment as the smile rides silently, from one set of eyes to another.

However, when you indulge in a moment of laughter, the eyes respond much too differently. Your eyes open up wide at first in a vain attempt to contain the amazement, and soon enough, they shut shop, drawing a blind over the visual world around.

Laughing is a bodily act, where each body part joins in—in its own unique way—to celebrate a mirth-filled moment in time. First your facial muscles jiggle with the giggle, then your shoulders jig up and down as the resulting resonance reaches the epicentre of our gastronomical desires—the stomach. The bouncing belly belches an air of celebration as a loud guffaw hitches a ride on it and laughter echoes in the surroundings, arousing the curiosity of clueless bystanders. If the moment calls for an even greater celebration, the laughter travels through the spines to the legs, making it impossible to be seated to enjoy the moment fully. You stand up, stamp your legs in a vain attempt to douse the flaming source of laughter, for it only intensifies, as your hands join in the celebration in the need to meet the pressing urge of patting your own thigh, or stroking the back of a friend, or best of all, meeting another palm in mid-air to add a smack of a layer in the gamut of giggles infected by laughter.

The success of a smile is in reciprocity while that of laughter is in finding communal consonance. Both expression celebrate our similarities. A smile is an acknowledgement of how we are all seeking the same things and a shared laughter celebrates the pleasure we derive from a common occurrence.

It is interesting to observe how either expression develop in a human since the time of birth. A child learns to smile first. The capacity for laughter develops at much later stage of understanding. Then, perhaps a smile is a more natural expression, a primal state of being.

Laughter being always open to exhibition makes for an attention seeking cousin of an introverted smile. A laugh is perceptible and has more to do with the air (think of the air you expel when you go ha ha), while a smile, subtle by nature, has an almost ethereal quality.

As much solemnity as we attribute to a smile, there are instances when we are forced to smile ad nauseam (ask the bride and groom at an Indian wedding reception), where the seemingly effortless expression, by virtue of repetition, becomes a facial torment. On the other hand, we look forward to unsolicited, belly-aching laughter, as if the pain is a reflection of the pleasure we derive from it.

The extent to which you can control either expression differs greatly. No matter how hard you try, the mirth in a moment can seldom be muffled, for if something tickles your funny bone, you cannot help but let out a loud laugh, almost as if it were an involuntary psychological function.

But the case with smiles, especially as we grow up, is drastically different. We sadly hold a distinction in holding hostage an ocean of smiles, out of fear, insecurity, mistrust, diffidence, and a void of love that we feel inside. And because we withhold our smiles and exercise our control over them to such an extent, an inviting smile from someone that beckons you to emancipate your own, feels liberating, as if a caged bird destined to sing and soar under the open sky is set free.

But if a smile is transmissible, laughter is communicable. A gaggle of giggling gentlemen is bound to pique the interest of bystanders. And, depending on how funny their laughter is, there is a good chance that passers-by find enough amusement in their expression to chuckle for a moment. The tendency of our collective conscience to be moved by a spell of laugh-worthy moment has given rise to the ubiquitous feature in the sitcoms of our generation – the laughter track. It serves as a repetitive aural reminder of what we must find funny in the act. While being constantly reminded of when to laugh can cause vexation, considering how media of entertainment are consumed these days, mostly alone in a dark living room at night, the act of laughing all by yourself, with not another soul around to share the laugh with, one’s own solitary laughter can somehow seem tragic to a viewer.

Desirable as they are, there is a dark side to both a smile and laughter. Think of the smile etched on Joker’s scarred face, or his menacing laughter, think of the Monalisa’s enigmatic smile, the echoes of the laughter of a spectre, or the vengeful laughter of an antagonist that manages to infiltrate into our dreams. By virtue of the purity of either expression, the slightest aberration in delivery invites an unsettling dread. No wonder that the ever laughing is deemed a lunatic, the ever grinning a clown, and as an act of balance, the ever smiling is celebrated as the Buddha.

Nostalgia has charming relationship with either expression. The memory of laughter shared in the past invites a cherishing smile, while the memory of a smile lived in the past might invite a wistful teardrop.

If laughter is a medicine, smiling is therapy. A smile celebrates truth and beauty, while laughter celebrates our capacity for folly, a far unsettling truth that’s best tempered by our ability to laugh it away.
A smile emanates from the core of the soul and laughter springs from the core of our body. No prizes for guessing then, on how to keep your body and soul awake, alive, and thriving.

Why the Ocean dances…

An innocent sand castle celebrates a few moments of gifted existence, before being smoothed out to the ground, grain by grain, as it yields to the unyielding surf of the ocean waves.

But on the other coast far far away, where the tide is still low , another castle in born, cupped together by diligent little builders.
Before too long, this castle will meet the same fate as its cousin across the ocean. It will melt with the chilling advance of an ice cold gush.

Needless to say, another castle will be born somewhere and the ocean wave will rush to lay its reign on it.
And thus the ocean dances, from coast to coast…in a fruitless attempt to win over the resilience of the spirit of a child.

A sand castle materializes whenever it senses the presence of the soul of a child…it’s but nature, for a child to cup the sand…and build. Children are born with the blueprint and with a resolve…

A resolve big enough to make the ocean dance for aeons…

The Power of Everyday – February 2020

Spring is just around the corner. It’s a wonderful month to start working on being a better version of yourself with a little bit of effort every single day. As a gift that comes every 4 years, there’s that one extra day to dedicate to the betterment of the worlds inside and outside.

Personally, I feel the need to work on my physical and psychological health this month.
After much pondering, I’ve narrowed down to challenges to work on in the month of February 2020.

1) Restrict mobile usage to less that 60 minutes a day, EVERYDAY.

2) Practice Yoga for 2 minutes EVERYDAY.

Through the process, I wish to explore how these activities affect my state of being, creativity, productivity and a general sense of health and well-being.

I cannot stress how valuable and transformative taking a tiny Power of Everyday project can be. I would highly recommend that you take one this month. How about reading a book for five minutes before bedtime? Think about it and post it in the comments below!

I’ll give an update about my progress at the end of the month.

Enjoy the subtle departure of the winter and the perfumed arrival of spring.

See you soon!

कागज़ की क़ैद

कागज़ पर खिंची सीधी लकीरें, सलाखों से कम नहीं

कैद हैं इस कारावास में न जाने कितनी कहानियाँ


सलाखें भी ऐसी कि आर-पार कोई सार ना दिखे

और पन्ना पलटें तो फिर कई सीधी लकीरें... 

कई क़ैद नज़्म...कई अनकही कहानियां...



कोरे कागज़, कोरी किताबें, क़ैद कई प्रश्नों के प्रेत

कब छूटेंगे प्राण इनके, कब सींचेगा कल्पना के खेत?



इस सवाल से जूझते हुए तू

कभी उम्मीद में, कभी हताशा में

उन सलाखों के परे छिपे शब्दों की पुकार ढूंढे

सन्नाटे में दूर कहीं जो मद्धम सी लोरी सुनाई पड़े...


जब तलक तेरी सोच झांक कर आज़ादी को ढूंढे

जब छलक कर उफ़ान मारे अभिव्यक्ति की बूंदें

तब कागज़ और कलम की नोक में घर्षण होगा मंद सा

चुप्पी के ताले तोड़े बोलेगा मन मलंग सा



हिचक की हिचकी से बेहतर आखिर

शब्द और स्याही की सरिता

बह जा इस पावन धारा में

 मुक्त कर हर कैद वो कविता


उठा कलम, रचते चला चल, 

मुक्त कर हर क़ैद कहानी

जो स्वर्ग समाए हर सर्ग में, 

अमर हो मानुष की वाणी...




 

Finding an Equinox in Life on Solstice

December 21. The eve of the solstice. A local celestial event that bathes earth in different hues of light, with peculiar views of the sun, no matter where you are on the planet.

As the tilt of northern pole, reaches its furthest extremity with respect to the earth’s annual pilgrimage around the sun, the Northern hemisphere, curled up in the windy winter, witnesses the shortest day of the year. At the same time, the south pole, leans closest to the sun, as the southern hemisphere saunters in summery delight, witnessing the longest day of the year, just a few days before a Christmas celebrated sans the celebratory snowfall.

And the closer you are to the poles, the more fascinating the spectacle. Beyond the Arctic Circle, the sun wouldn’t hover even for a moment in the sky, drenching the area in darkness, while within the Antarctic Circle, the sun would efface the night, as it suspends in the sky all through the 24 hours that make a day.

The gentle tilt of the earth gives us so much to celebrate – the gift of seasons, the trade winds, a breath-taking biodiversity and of course, seemingly unearthly events of solstices.

While a solstice is a fascinating earthly phenomenon that marks the extremes of the duration of daylight, the human conception of a day, its length and the value derived from it is rarely synchronous to the event. There are cultural and psychological influences at play that dictate our relationship with the duration and depth of what we now understand as a day.

In the sweep of advancing technology, our species has successfully conquered darkness with illumination. Culturally, we’ve moved beyond the local solar day, thanks to household electrification. Being a flick of a switch away from illumination past sundown, our days have become longer for sure.

However, as far as we have come from being dictated by nature beyond us, we are still tethered to our own human nature. On a psychological level, each human perceives the length of a day differently. It’s an experience as personal as a dream that nobody else is privy to. A day spent in good company or spent being meaningfully engaged, breezes past elegantly. But a day spend without purpose slithers painfully, adding undesired friction in our stride.

Evidently, a ‘long day’ at work is a phrase that’s being used far too often in our cultural parlance, part due to the wear-out, part in lament of a day divested of depth. Gone are the times when daylight was celebrated as an incantation for living life outdoors in the field and the nights were a hymn that decreed us to rest peacefully.

Most of us have lost the privilege of retiring from work as the sun retreats beyond the horizon. Global connectivity and economic metrics can dictate us to work as the sun rises and sets in a more prosperous part of the world, time zones apart.

Our days have come far beyond the solar day. Incandescence has bled into our earthly night as we forget the value of the most natural de-markers of dusk from dawn.

And along with that, we’ve lost the romance for the spirited rise of the sun. We have a hard time recollecting the last instance when we watched the parting winter sun paint splendid hues in the sky, with a dazzling Venus in its tow. Perhaps the further away we are from such natural invitations for contemplation, the more unsettled we become deep inside.

We live in a funny era, where after unsettling elegantly designed natural equilibria, we run around like chickens to find balance in life!

The workdays are becoming longer, so are the commutes, and sleep is drifting further away from being a continuum of placid repose.

The best thing about a good night’s sleep, just like a good day’s work, is how you only remember the beginning and the end, while all the magic that happens in between is effortless as a flamboyant stroke on the canvas by a painter in flow.  A good day at work and a good night of sleep are precursors (and pre-requisites) of each other, in our daily cyclic dance. And more than duration, what matters most in either engagements, is depth.

Nowhere else is this profundity of engagement better exhibited during childhood days. The presence in each moment of wakefulness, in each moment at play is at its zenith. And the hours of sleep are as deep as they can be, in preparation for another day full of joy and zeal.

Perhaps what we need more than longevity in life, is the elegant passage of time, both in sleep and in wakefulness. And, as time passes elegantly, the notions of length of the day would matter little, for what would matter more is the completeness in our involvement in all states of our consciousness.

Then shall we find a balance, not a perennial solstice in our workdays where the days are always long, but an equinox, with profound presence throughout, both in sleep and in wakefulness, regardless of the position of the sun in the sky, regardless of the state of our consciousness.

Today is the shortest day of the year. Perhaps, for a change, it would be nice to give up control of the luminosity around us, and watch the sun paint a silhouette in the far horizon. If we choose to do so, the Venus shall burn brighter, in its retreat into the afterglow. While the length of the day today on 21 December, might be the shortest this year, the presence in the moment, as we pore the sky in wonder, shall be a worthy consolation.








एक दर्शन ऐसा भी !

अभी तो सवेरा हुए कुछ ही पल हुए थे
कि गुप्ता जी मंदिर की ऒर चढ़ावा लिए चल पड़े थे

दूर प्रांत से ज्ञानी बाबा आये थे नगर में
भक्तों का तांता लगा था मानो हर डगर में

दर्शन पाने को आतुर आये बाबा की पनाह में
थी कतार ऐसी लंबी पुराने मंदिर की राह में

पर इस मंगल अवसर पर गुप्ता जी ने देखा कुछ ऐसा
कि जैसे कामधेनु के बगल में खड़ा हो काला भैंसा !

गुप्ता जी ने देखा राह पर झाड़ू लगाता एक गरीब
बौखलाए सज्जन की मानो बाहर ही निकल आई जीभ

वो बोले,

सोच था होगा दिव्य मिलन, पर मिला ये झाडुवाला मलिन
इस कलमुहे को झाड़ू लगाना था क्या आज ही के दिन?

अपशगुन हाय अपशगुन, मेरी किस्मत ही है मारी
जो ढूंढता चला ब्रम्हा को और पल्ले पड़ी ये बीमारी

पावन इस अवसर का यह तो रायता फैला रहा है
जो झाड़ू लिए यह भिखारी धूल उड़ाता जा रहा है

इस तरह झाड़ू लगाने का भला कोई अर्थ है?
जो धूल तो कल फ़िर जमेगी, ये काम ही देखो व्यर्थ है !

अरे क्या दर्शन पाने का आखिर उचित है यह काल?
सोच बैठे गुप्ता जी रख कर मुँह पर रुमाल

फ़िर शंखनाद से प्रारंभ हुआ पावन सा प्रवचन
विचलित से शांत हुआ कुछ गुप्ता जी का मन

फ़िर घंटो तक बाबा बोले सभी दिव्य ग्रन्थों का सार
ब्रम्हा विष्णु महेश की लीलाएं अपरम्पार

ज्ञानी बाबा बोले

सैकड़ो बार यह सृष्टि बनी, और सैकड़ो बार नष्ट हुई
यह महिमा मण्डित प्रकृति भी धूल में ध्वस्त हुई

फ़िर उसी धूल से फूटे पुनः जीवन के यह नव अंकुर
फ़िर नारद बोले नारायण और छूटे संगीत के पहले सुर

और इसी तरह बारम्बार चलेगी सृष्टि की अद्भुत माया
यहां देवता भी सर्वनाश से मुक्त नहीं रह पाया

पर पुनः होगी रचना, होगा सृष्टि का नवसर्जन
तू काम में बस राम ढूँढ़, कर हर चिंता का विसर्जन

भावुक होकर गुप्ता जी ने कर तो दिया दंडवत प्रणाम
पर मन में शंका थी एक, भला पूछे कैसे सरेआम?

ख़ैर हिम्मत जुटा कर गुप्ता जी ने पूछा ही लिया

कि बाबाजी उत्पत्ति और विनाश का चक्र पल्ले पड़ता नहीं
जो सृष्टि का एक कण भी सर्वनाश से बचता नहीं

जो तांडव तले कुचलेगा सब तो क्यों रचा ब्रम्हा ने संसार
क्यों झेलते हैं ब्रम्हा बार बार, अपनी ही सृष्टि का संहार?

जो भस्म बनेगा आखिर ब्रम्हांड तो ब्रम्हा क्यों रचते हैं
क्यों बार बार इस व्यर्थ परिश्रम से छूटे नहीं बचते हैं?

मैं तो सोच बैठा था की देवताओं का भीषण है पराक्रम
पर देखे तो बनता है उनका जीवन बस है निरंतर श्रम

उत्पत्ति, जीवन और विनाश, ब्रम्हा, विष्णु और महेश
यह सृष्टि है इनकी माया, या इनके नसीब में लिखा है क्लेश

अचरज को मेरी कृपा कर सुलझा दो मेरे गुरूजन
एक उत्तर ऐसा दो कि बस शांत हो जाए विचलित मन

पर ज्ञानी बाबा ने धरा मौन, हर भक्त हुआ उठ खड़ा
प्रवचन हुआ पूरा पर गुप्ता जी के पल्ले कुछ ना पड़ा

घर जाते हुए उन्होंने सोचा

जो देवता की भी हर रचना है व्यर्थ आखिरकार
जो सृष्टि का विनाश होता है बार बार

ऐसे में किसी भी काम का कोई अर्थ है भला जी?
इस सवाल में उलझे चल पड़े चकराए गुप्ता जी

मंदिर की राह में था धूल और धुंध का माहौल
मुह पैट रुमाल धरे गुप्ता जी का खून गया खौल

वो बोले

इस झाड़ू वाले का दिखना ही था अपशगुन का पैग़ाम
जो दर्शन हुए तो भी ना मिला विचलित से मन को आराम

रोज़ धूल उड़ाता है सड़क की न जाने क्यों ये अनाड़ी
जो धूल कल फिर वहीं जमनी है, व्यर्थ है ये दिहाड़ी

और फिर हवा चली ज़ोर से, एक तूफान सा उठा पड़ा
गुंजित हुआ शंखनाद, मंदिर का घंटा बज पड़ा

फूलों की हुई वर्षा, वातावरण हुआ स्वर्ग सा सज्जित
रौशनी हुई दिव्य, धूल का बवंडर हुआ प्रज्ज्वलित

और जैसे ही धूल का बवंडर साफ हुआ
गुप्ता जी ने अपनी ऐनक संभाली

और सामने सफेद दाढ़ी में झाड़ू लिए ब्रम्हा जी खड़े थे !

On the subtle sense of smell

The sense of smell.
Suffused silently in the ebb and flow of breath, such is its subtlety that we seldom take note of its presence. But as easy it is for us to imagine a person who can’t see, hear or speak, can we imagine a person who can’t smell? It almost feels as if such a person couldn’t be alive, for the loss of the sense of smell feels akin to loss of the breath itself.

The olfactory sense is perhaps one of the most visceral of all, for unlike the sense of sight that is related to the eye, or the sense of hearing associated with the ear, or the sense of touch felt by the skin, it doesn’t seem as easy to associate an organ with the sense of smell. While we do breathe in from the nose, there’s something mysterious about how we make sense of smell, a working far more complex that merely sniffing through our nostrils.

There is an evocative potential in every scent. Each lingering scent that we’ve experienced in our life is meticulously bookmarked in the brain as a memory. And what makes the memory so special is that the scent that brings it forth cannot be reproduced at will.
You can listen to an old song that you wish to hear, or look at a photograph you had clicked years ago, as you can still pull those out at will from a digital repository.
But how do you pull out the aroma that used to emanate from the kitchen at your grandmother’s place when you visited her at age 6?
Having said that, should you inadvertently find someone crushing coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle in the neighborhood, it could teleport you to your grandmother’s kitchen in an instant.
Such is the evocative energy !

While we humans do not have as keen a sense of smell as animals, it has been instrumental in our survival and perpetuation through the ages.
Odour plays a significant role in mating. Attraction has a lot to do with finding a partner with an agreeable and enchanting scent.

But there’s a role that an unpleasant odour play as well. Think of the miracle of nature, that any food that is unappetizing or toxic to our biology invariably emits an unpleasant odour, steering us clear from the idea of consuming it.

A person’s natural odour, until not too long ago, was an identity in itself. However, once humankind figured out the science of aromatics, the deep personality in the natural scent of a human has wafted away, and a dab, a drop, a drizzle, of a synthetic concoction has effaced our natural olfactory fingerprint.

Modernity has only made us feel insecure about our own musk. And in a world where cultural aspirations tend to funnel towards a white-collar office job, breaking into a sweat while at work has sadly, lost its charm.
Sweating is the body’s natural mechanism to cool-off, flush out toxins and bring a soothing relief from stressful physical work.
A moist layer of skin, a dripping brow, the sublime sweetness of a saline secretion, were all tangible testimonies to the effort we put into our work.
At some level, after a hard day at work, as the evening breeze brushed against a peasant’s skin, along with the heat it took away from the body, the sweat also took away all pent up stress.

In our modern office environment, where we are conditioned to the extent that even the air we breathe is but conditioned, and as we attribute more respect to cerebral work, the association of sweat with hard work has been reduced to a mere metaphor.
Now, as we’ve begun to associate sweat with drudgery, with no way to dissipate stress through our pores, have we not designed a drudgery for ourselves in our sterile work environment?
Should the proliferation of stress management workshops ever come as a surprise?

Sweat and body odour are seen (through the lens of modernity) as problems, which can be remedied if one is willing to tow the line of advertizing and spend money.
‘The scent of desire’, ‘The musk of Masculinity’ and if you’re willing to believe, the advertizers, they’ve even concocted ‘The scent of success’!
Granted some of us need respite from the pungent chemistry of certain pairs of underarms, but how does the noxious, repulsive blend of body odour and a synthetic fragrance help us in such a situation?
Perhaps a little hygiene and moderation in what we put into our bodies would help us all?

The culture of seeking synthetic scents isn’t merely the case of addressing the symptom and not the cause. It is emblematic a morbid mentality of thinking that our natural body odour is a problem in itself.
Can one’s natural identity become a problem? Good luck feeling secure if you’re riding on that train!

Natural scents are ethereal. But so are the subliminal traps of synthetic aroma and crafty advertising, that aren’t the easiest to circumvent in our current social culture.

But once purged from the platter of aromatics, you would realise that it’s far more romantic to get a whiff of your beloved’s pheromones, secreted solely to enchant you, than any synthetic scent on the shelf. That a baby deserves to smell like its subtle self and is better off without the generic scent of carcinogenic talcum powder. The freshness of a pair of clothes dried naturally in the sunlight far surpasses what a fragrant fabric conditioner can do. And your natural musk, in whatever health at the moment, is in fact, all yours.

In closing, I would like to share an interesting sensory discovery. The other day, I walked into a shop in the old city that sells attar, a traditional, steam-distilled perfume. One of the latest fragrances on the shelf was called ‘the smell of the earth’.

While it smelt surprisingly similar to the smell of the earth, the lingering aroma also left me wondering.
How far have we drifted away from the earth, to need to seek it’s aroma so desperately, albeit, in a packaged synthetic concoction?

We have progressed to an extent to have deciphered the science of smell.
But it’s one thing to smell like the earth,
And another to smell of it.

On choosing your pleasures wisely

Nature has – as a provision for an evolutionary fillip- designed us to be a pleasure seeking species. It is our basic instinct to maximize pleasure and alleviate pain. From the joy in the warmth of an embrace, to the alluring magnetism of a baby’s smile, to the existentially satisfying act of procreation, nature has designed our experience of pleasure to meet its longing for itself, through our perennial pursuit for posterity.

Up until a few decades ago, our pleasures were few and far in between, and certainly, not accessible at will. To even get a bowl of french fries, one had to wait for the winter harvest. Think of the ubiquity of our starch laden indulgence in our tech-dictated age, where it is just a few taps away on the screen!

Technology has ushered in pleasures at a rate far beyond a human’s capacity to experience them. The brain, stimulated constantly by novel stimuli, seems to be in overdrive from the rush of dopamine and serotonin. The ease with which pleasures are available to us in today’s age also begs us to contemplate about where exactly pleasure morphs into peril, access into addiction. How many addictions have we sanitized to normalcy?

Have we, in seeking pleasure, forgotten to discern which pleasures are worth pursuing and which ones are best avoided?

Before we talk about discernment, let’s simplify the types of pleasures we go out to seek.

At the risk of sounding simplistic, I believe that broadly, there are two kinds of pleasures:

1. The Simple Pleasures
2. The Easy Pleasures

The simpler pleasures of life are, in most cases, accessible to one and all without discrimination. A simple pleasure of life is accessible in the following two ways.

A Simple Pleasure :

a. Accessible by a Deep Presence : Think of a calming wind caressing your skin, a field of sunflowers in full bloom, glancing your finger on a touch-me-not plant, or watching the luminous courtship dance of fireflies on a dark night. These are simple pleasures accessible to anyone who is mindfully present in the moment.

b. Accessible by a Deep Perseverance : Think of the time when you created something new, a demanding pursuit that was awarded with the simple pleasure of a smile that stems from deep within, on realizing the beauty of what you’ve created. It could be a pot, a play, a sketch, a symphony, a code or a caramel cookie. Manifesting anew gives joy abound.

However, we are confronted with another kind of pleasure in today’s day and age. The Easier Pleasure.

The Easier Pleasures are :

a. Accessible as Cheap-Thrills : (vices, addictions, passive digital entertainment, sexual self-gratification, pornography)

b. Accessible as Lifestyle Frills : (Consumption borne out of wants and not needs, individualism to the point of corruption of the longing for fraternity, the culture of seeking identity from objects)

How does one discern between the two types of pleasures?
There’s a straightforward test to know the difference between a simple pleasure and an easy pleasure. A simple pleasure is borne out of creation. It could be the pleasure one gets from creating something or in marveling in being able to experience what someone else/ nature has created.

An easier pleasure is borne out of consumption. Through most of human history, the easier pleasure was accessible only to a select few. But with worldwide access to the internet, the easier pleasures have become accessible to much of our generation.

What if I were to suggest that the quality of your life is a function of the choice you make when confronted with the promise of experiencing pleasure?

While you have been designed to be a pleasure seeking being, and the body doesn’t discern a detrimental pleasure from a favorable one (it fires up the same happy hormones in either case!), the responsibility of making a wise choice rests on your own mind.

The more lasting pleasures are the ones that have been earned through perseverance, or through a solemn presence in the unfolding moment – the simpler pleasures that one is more likely to reminisce about around a warm fire-place on a winter evening.

Creating something is perhaps the most demanding pleasure of them all that calls for a devotion that is absolute. But it is a much more character building than the pleasure that comes from the effortlessly accessible act of crude consumption.

The prospect of a meaningful life rests on how well you are able to navigate the pleasure paradigm. While the easier, short-term pleasures are easy to access, they seldom qualify as prized nostalgia, nor do they chisel your character to reveal a more glorious manifestation of your self.

Steering our pleasure-seeking self in the direction that asks for presence and perseverance is the prudent choice.

And when in a dilemma in choosing between the promise of two pleasures, ask yourself which one of the two is an easier pleasure and which one is the simpler pleasure. Once you can discern that, set sail to the winds of the latter.

For wisdom lay in choosing your pleasures wisely.

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