My moments of pleasure are spontaneous occasions that occur when I least expect them – when all the troubles of the world fall away and are replaced by intimate, authentic experiences that fall onto my shoulders like a warm blanket. These moments rarely last long, but are forever lodged in my memory. For me, these are the moments that make life worth living.
When times are difficult, I remind myself that no matter how dark things may seem, circumstances will eventually turn around and there will be more moments of pleasure before my time on earth is over. Lately, I've discovered that moments of pleasure seem to occur more frequently the more I pay attention and live in the present.
We plan holidays, celebrations and vacations in the hopes that they will be filled with such experiences. Sometimes, these special moments coincide with these planned occasions. More often, these special moments become more elusive the more we try to plan for them. So I gave up on planning for them years ago, and simply trust that they will come when they are ready.
Here's a couple of noteworthy moments of pleasure from my memory banks:
- In my first grade classroom one afternoon, I found myself staring at my hands, marveling at the fact that they belonged to me and I controlled their movements. It was as if I knew that I was a being who had been around a lot longer than my 6 years on earth, but was spending this particular period of time inhabiting a human body. I felt grateful to be granted this time within this wondrous physical body. I kept repeating to myself with joy, "I am ME, I am ME!"
- In the late 1970s, I was driving through Calabasas, California with Kelly, the girl I was dating at the time. The Neil Young song "Comes A Time" started playing on the radio and we both spontaneously starting singing along together in harmony. For those few minutes, everything around us seemed to be in harmony. We only dated a short while, but to this day I am grateful to Kelly for being part of that moment.
- When I had been playing the fiddle for about 6 months, I felt a wave of emotion wash over me one day as I played, and began to cry. It was as if the action of making music with the fiddle (albeit not very well at that point), was releasing profound feelings that had been long hidden deep within me. I gazed at the fiddle, and knew it was about to take me on many amazing journeys. (And in fact, Appalachian fiddling lead me to leave Los Angeles and move to Asheville, NC, where I met my fiancée Beth and her daughter Rebecca.)
- After spending an amazing week in Northern California at a magical folk music camp in a redwood forest, I spent an afternoon lingering in the town of Mendocino. I climbed down from the headlands onto the rocks on the edge of the ocean, and sat intently watching thousands of small dark-umber-colored crabs scurrying about, making bubbly clicking sounds with their mouths. I was so still, the crabs came right up to me. An intense sensation of belonging and self acceptance washed over me.
- While I was wrangling with the frustrations of the bankruptcy process, I broke away from my computer and sat fuming on the front porch. While in the midst of my pity party, I looked up and noticed Beth working away in the vegetable garden below. As I watched the love of my life tend our garden, my angst melted away. I heaved a great sigh and realized that everything was going to be alright.
- A few weeks ago, I was working on the computer as daughter Rebecca read a Harry Potter novel on the futon across the room. She was so immersed in her book, she didn't notice as I watched her for probably ten or fifteen minutes. I became focused on her gestures and facial expressions, and in that moment, it was as if I could visualize her as a timeless being, and could picture her in every phase of her life, from young to old, simultaneously. I knew I would love her throughout every phase. She finally noticed I was looking when I quietly picked up my camera and took a few photos to commemorate the moment.