The Importance of Pleasure

I’ve been reading a book by Debra Ollivier called “What French Women Know.” One of my favorite quotes comes when the author asks a French writer what she thinks is the most defining quality of French Women. She sits back, sinking into her chic leather couch pondering the question. Then she responds:

“French women have a keen sense of the brevity of time and the immediacy of pleasure.”

My interpretation? Life is short, tragically, maybe even beautifully so. Death looms always on the horizon. But pleasure is here always. Available in each and every moment.  

So while I sit here and worry about being alone and lonely, and wonder how long will it last? Will I be alone for five minutes or five years or forever? While worry about my decisions today, and endlessly debate my choices, do I buy a Mac or PC? Do I save my money for retirement or take another trip? Which will lead to a happy future, or the least amount of regret? 

I’m missing the moment. I’m missing the pleasure that’s here right now. Sometimes large but often subtle:

    The taste of perfect toast, crispy and still warm, with elderberry preserves. Memories of the farmers market where I bought it.
    Taking the time to play ball with my dog, even though I’m tired. Taking the time to give her my attention. Feeling all the unconditional love there’s to be had there.
      Sitting in an artsy cafe on a rainy day, sipping earl grey with hours of time to read a deliciously good book. It’s been years since I’ve read a work of fiction.
        The sexy flirtation with a mysterious stranger who has the deepest brown eyes — the warmth of sharing a laugh with him.

      In the book the author goes on to speak of the impossibility of us knowing the future. All this worry and none of it will change the future. Even the most well thought out choice is really a gamble. After all, “the future is not ours to see. Whatever will be will be,” as the author reminds us in the form of Doris Day’s song.

      We don’t know what our future is, but the pleasure of this moment –warm & intimate, maybe even breathlessly so, is ready and waiting for you. That we do know. We just need to be awake enough to see it, and that means letting go of all the future guessing.

      There is another quote from the book I love, where the author speaks of a French film that illustrates this point:

      “Rather than death motivating one to avoid risks in life,the film suggests that not taking emotional risks is a form of death itself.”

      All this worrying about the future has no real effect on it, further it stops us from living our real life, the one right in front of us now. It robs us of pleasure, one of the few gifts of life that makes it worth living.  

      If the future isn’t entirely ours, then ultimately, we may only have the moment. Can the moment be enough?


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