Yeah, purify and optimize, baby! Do all manner of chic things to my environment that I can do perfectly well without. If you got it, I want it.
I hear the distant creak of floor boards but otherwise nothing, a thousand mortal breaths, the fluid rustle of drapes billowing by the open French doors, the cursor blinks balefully, my fingers tap a sated tattoo on the desk top. An opened book on the plush chaise ruffles its pages in a faint warm breeze.
I think about pleasure.
I do that a lot, you know. I'm fond of pleasure. I love to feel good. I love the spoils of filthy lucre, I love the ritz of complete indulgence. Make it all tangible and voluptuous. Heap my sins about me. Original paintings, sisters to various lauded works in museums and famous private collections hang on my damask walls. My little cellular phone blinks away, exorbitantly expensive on the polished wood of the table as a gorgeous and unnecessary thing. No guilt here, mes amies.
Pleasure seems a lost art of civilization. Why have so many generations been warned to avoid it? Pleasure isn't sin, it's the pain that's evil, that's clear enough. Pleasure is essential to happiness, in whatever form it might be found. No life should be founded on the principles of denial. I refuse to deny myself anything.
I once read there are four rules of pleasure, my pleasure-seekers.
First, you must stare down the disapproving. Check.
Second, keep it simple. There's more pleasure to be had in the sly press of cool lips to hot fragrant skin than in any manner of exotic carnal delights.
A third might be found in reciprocity. Those who give pleasure are more likely to feel it. That might seem like the precious irony of ironies coming from my bestial lips, but it's true enough. Use insight, sympathy and mutuality- swoon with them, my darlings- and in that there's a piquant pleasance.
Ah and fourth, is my favorite pastime; identify its possibilities. Find beauty and sweet pleasures in all manner of things. Find pleasure in scent, in beginnings, in the sweet exploration of finger tips; find it in reading a good book, in pain and the challenge of tribulation; find it in the unexpected or familiar. Know that pleasure is everywhere and open yourself to its kiss.
Hold on in! You might say. Yo, Lestat, pleasure isn't happiness. It's not the same thing at all. It's a thin veneer, it's fleeting, it's empty. Give me the real thing! Feed my soul.
If you are trying terribly hard to be happy then you're probably failing, and miserably. It's just doesn't have as direct a connection to you as pleasure; you simply cannot be sure that any specific thing you might do will lead to happiness. It's not scientific or logical or algebraic. There is no formula. Happiness is a by product of your actions, it's fall out.
Now on the other hand pleasure is direct wired. Press the right button, get a jolt. Spirituality can be found anywhere, after all, it can be as simple as recognizing beauty, and beauty and pleasure are perfect bed fellows. I've never believed that denial and pain and prohibition lead to contentment, but true pleasure unfurls the soul and just maybe happiness will take up residence too. Sometimes getting what you want just ain't all bad. It certainly doesn't feel it.
So add to your talents. To your mental list of available twenty-first century arts, add the inestimable art of cultivating bliss. It won't hurt to try.