"Concentrate on your pleasure, I told myself" is a quote from Phillip Roth's The Dying Animal, a story about an older (elderly?) professor who falls in love with his twenty-something-year-old student (not exactly original). It's one of those books my memory conjures in brief scenes, and not because my reading was bad; its pages served a purpose (being read). But oddly, that quote sneaks up on me whenever I'm in a creative pickle.
Epicureans - those who follow the philosophy of Epicureanism - believe, in some regard, that life's purpose is to avoid pain and seek pleasure. Seek pleasure. Avoid pain. Simple, right?
Groan. Seeking pleasure takes serious effort, especially artistic pleasure. For instance, give me a writing weekend in a desolate cabin and I'm all smiles. But it takes money, obviously, and vacation hours at work. Recently, my host gave me a harsh review on AirBnB, which is a separate eye-rolling story. Regardless, pleasure is also painful, work-wise. As I melt on my seat at my work station, prioritizing multiple creative projects (writing a memoir, composing music, doodling, journaling, co-organizing a benefit series, etc.), and trying to turn all of that work into a profit, my batteries are drained. What's going on?
Mapping It Out: So I wrote a list of all things pleasure-filling and pain-inducing. There were no surprises, but visualizing adds urgency to the wellness workout ahead. Ultimately, I discovered how my life decisions impact my creative energy. What are your pleasure/pain points? Here's where I'm at:
Again, seeking pleasure and the subsequent maintenance schedule - yes, most good things require planning - involve serious focus. So: "Concentrate on your pleasure, I told myself..." - The Dying Animal