Don’t Let the Pleasure Stop and Don’t Die
Don’t let the pleasure stop and don’t die. These are two rules that we live by most fervently. To be without pleasure is to be without the essence of life, but still death is unthinkable.
My anxiety is dominated by the fear that pleasure will end, and I am terrified that I will be the cause of its demise. We are regularly confronted with ways to enrich our lives. We are encouraged to maintain elation by indulging in our interests, but happiness is as inconsistent as the weather. On the bad days, depression seeps in, filling the cracks in my anxiety with another disorder. Rather than accepting the logic that my suffering cannot go on forever, I’ve convinced myself that it might continue indefinitely. Trying to falsify this belief has perpetuated my anxiety.
I also feel ashamed that I don’t know how not to die. I have wrongly accredited the idea that a formula exists: a calculation dedicated to the avoidance of death; a blueprint for immortality. Closer examination in the way society regards death can make this easier to believe. We accept death’s role in the life cycle only in our debilitating years, in the final gasps of a frail body. An early death is chastised. Neglecting to purchase insurance against the unforeseeable invokes judgment. Blame can be found in the deceased’s own actions: Did they eat the wrong foods? Turn down the wrong street? Drink too much, exercise too little? Perhaps it was just a matter of “wrong place, wrong time”. The acceptable age to perish is also considered arbitrary. No one knows when it is the right time to die, so long as it is later, not now. Not ever.
To die too young under society’s judgment and to not have had enough pleasure in the life preceding creates a toxic mix of anxiety and guilt. We can attempt to alleviate the need for constant pleasure, permitting true joy in the present, and not anxiety over its inevitable passing. However, we live in a way that allows us to fall under the illusion that death, illness, and injury are optional experiences reserved for those who are too foolish to get out of their way. To be alive is to take chances among the dangers of our world; to risk perfect health for a temporary elation and a state of enlightenment. The low periods between joyous events bring balance to our lives and make the pleasurable moments that much sweeter when they are attained.
Contentment is a life balance that is severely underrated. Civilization often forgets that all we are guaranteed in this life is the present moment. We are urged to exist in constant pleasure without mistakes or hardships, and to die at the perfect time when the appropriate policies are in place. Instead, we should embrace the balance and take pause to appreciate the moment. We should feel compelled to understand and sympathize with those that do not, for we know we will be there soon ourselves.