The Inconvenience of Pleasure

A while ago, my partner and I bought kombucha at a farmer’s market. The kombucha is locally made here and quite different from other kombucha available in Germany. My partner had asked two evenings if I wanted to drink one of the kombucha bottles. I declined because it might disrupt your sleep. On the third day, he put the kombucha on the table for lunch. Even though it was a minor event, it revealed a lot in terms of my relationship with pleasure.

My first thought was: “No, we can’t have that now. We should drink it when we have more time to savor it. It’s in the middle of the day. I still need to get some things done. I should just have a quick lunch and get back to work.”

I paused for a moment and reminded myself of my intention to prioritize pleasure in my life. I took a bit longer lunch break and enjoyed the kombucha. I enjoyed it at the kitchen table despite the kitchen being messy.

It was a great practice to allow more pleasure in my life. Especially, when I feel that I don’t have time. And when it’s imperfect and messy. Still finding pleasure there. Not only when all work is done and there’s no mess around.

Pleasure, Productivity, and Inconvenience

Work first, rest later is something that I have been indoctrinated with growing up. It still requires discipline to go against that socialization. The feeling of having to earn pleasure runs deep.

With that standard, we hardly ever conclude that we’ve worked enough to deserve pleasure and rest. I certainly didn’t at that moment.

More pleasure, even tiny ones, can help us be more productive. But I’m not willing anymore to see pleasure only as a means to productivity. Bringing more pleasure into our lives makes them so much more enjoyable. It’s worthwhile for its own sake.

One of my teachers Jenna Ward talks about how opportunities for pleasure often show up when it’s inconvenient. It’s a conscious choice to prioritize pleasure. In the middle of the day. Despite a long to-do list.

Pleasure Despite Mess

Similar to having the sense that we need to earn the right for pleasure, we might apply a similar principle to the environment: only when it’s perfect and there’s no mess can I experience pleasure.

There is a certain truth in that. Having a nice environment that appeals to all the senses certainly supports feeling pleasure. However, it’s not a prerequisite for experiencing pleasure. This experience served as a reminder for me that pleasure is always available. Even when it’s messy around. There was even a certain beauty in the experience because of the mess. If the environment needs to be perfect, the barrier is quite high and we’ll always find something that isn’t quite right yet. Instead, I can cultivate pleasure anywhere and anytime.

Saving for Special Occasions

The way I was raised emphasized saving for the special occasion. I understand where that is coming from. All previous generations have experienced poverty. They either didn’t have the money or many things weren’t available all the time. The problem is that more often than not the special occasion never comes.

Even if I could never get that same kombucha again, it’s certainly better to drink and enjoy it in a not-so-perfect moment than pour it out eventually because the perfect moment never came.

We might worry that we don’t enjoy the special things as much anymore if it’s a daily thing. However, I believe that’s only the case if we’re not present. If we don’t take the time to savor it. If we allow ourselves to slow down, be present, and maybe even turn it into a little ritual, it won’t lose any of its magic.

Like they say “Life is made up of small moments like these”, I want to cultivate more of the small moments of pleasure. Anytime, anywhere, even if and especially when it’s inconvenient. Because it’s these small moments that make the difference over time.