Of moderation and penetration – finding happiness through limitation

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Legend says that once Alexander the Great conquered the mighty Persian Empire and dethroned “the King of kings” he wept dearly, for in his mind there were no more worlds left to conquer. It had been his life’s sole purpose to defeat his enemies and one day there were none. Eventually this led him to ever more insane undertakings and his own loyal men rebelled against him. It wasn’t defeat which led him to ruin, but victory itself.

I believe there is an Alexander in all of us, for we all crave in conquering the unconquerable be it love, fame, riches or life itself, but I don’t think we actually understand what that entails. Our very physiology doesn’t help us either, as from an evolutionary perspective, we never quite evolved to live in a world of plenty. In essence we were given unquenchable thirsts for certain stimuli because our biological systems knew they had to assign a high importance to them given their relative scarcity, with the caveat being that we were never meant to succeed at satisfying them.

Hence we enjoy sugar to the point of becoming diabetic, hence we enjoy rest and relaxation to the point of lethargy and decline, hence we enjoy sex to the detriment of other aspects in our lives and so on and so on. These were not vices we were ever meant to fully satiate.

I would of course be a hypocrite if I suddenly turned to be a preacher of abstinence (what with the last of my articles railing against the boundaries of social expectations) but I shall wholeheartedly be a preacher of moderation.

Whilst “moderation” as a life policy sounds about as exciting as your mother telling you to eat your vegetables, I believe it is the wisest course of action. I have recently been thinking on the phenomenon of notch counting, when men tally how many girls they have slept with and compare with each other, and despite once having been among its disciples, I’ve come to see that this is simply an unhealthy mindset.

I have not evolved beyond the scope of “lesser” notions and desires, I’m still a man, I still have a libido and very much enjoy the process of satisfying it. But engaging in the dick measuring contest with other men is patently unhelpful. The only questions that truly matter in life are whether you’re enjoying the path you’re on, and how you can improve on yourself to succeed in your goals.

Frankly I cannot begin to understand the logic behind the people who sleep with any girl that happens to give them their phone number. Even meeting them for coffee can be a chore and simply not worth it from an opportunity cost standpoint – and yes, this holds true even if you happen to have sex with them.

competition
According to Google this is what a competition looks like – I’m not gonna argue with it

As platitudes go, the phrase “you only have one life and your time is valuable” is about as cliché as it can get, but I very much subscribe to it. Perhaps what genuinely drove home this realisation was a date I had this week with a Korean girl, where not in a single point in the first interaction with her did I genuinely feel the desire to see her again, yet I still went on a date with her because I felt a certain imaginary peer pressure to do this, and the thought of “why not?” rang through me. What followed was a date about as fun as grandma’s funeral.

I should know better now and trust my gut feeling when first meeting someone and getting their phone numbers, as I’ve often done before. Having the potential of sex be there to bribe me into tolerating someone is simply not high enough of a price. All in all I don’t think I’ve changed all that much since I was a child; I was, and still am, very much a misanthrope and thus I do not enjoy interacting with most people – I have always preferred to keep my social circle small and selected.

Drowning in a sea of pointless pussy is simply not on my list of priorities, nor do I genuinely think that it leads to a fulfilling life. Take Hugh Hefner, Mr Playboy himself, as an example as he ended up getting married three times (twice after he was the most important man in modelling) in his pursuit for meaning.

Whilst my own views on marriage and kids are likely well documented, one can easily understand what it was that drove him to do that. Infinity is dull, and there came a time when even banging an infinite amount of playmates on a regular basis must’ve gotten boring and unchallenging. Like Alexander the Great there came a time where he craved new worlds to conquer, thus he decided to marry and have kids.

Because of this, I strongly believe that quality ought to trump quantity. What does it matter that you had sex with x number of girls in y period of time if you only enjoyed only a handful of them? I’m not saying that you didn’t enjoy the act of sex (though as previously discussed this alone can be an issue by itself), but were most of them truly worth it from an opportunity cost standpoint or are your baser desires overriding all your logical sensibilities? Pacing yourself, and actually bothering to invest in people that you genuinely click with would seem to me a much more sensible outlook.

This moderate logic isn’t solely reserved to sex either, even eating something you’re supposed to enjoy, like chocolate, falls prey to this. Perhaps it’s only me, but I cannot begin to tell you how often I’ve bought a chocolate bar, wolfed it down with little rhyme, reason or thought and by the end of it I’m staring a wrapper and wondering why the whole experience was moderately unsatisfying. At which point I’ve often given in to my baser desires and simply bought a new one, only to repeat the unsatisfactory experience. The problem wasn’t in the amount of chocolate I was getting, but in my attitude towards it.

And thus to truly find enjoyment in the act of eating sweets I have to learn to appreciate them, rather than mechanically going through the motions. I kid you not when I say my chocolate eating moments have become a bit of a meditation as of late, where I put every distraction aside and focus on savouring that lone chocolate bar and nothing else. For a few minutes there’s nothing else in the universe but me seeing the world go by and my chocolate bar – and this works!

I will even go as far as saying that the pleasure of the moment is magnified by taking my time to savour it, instead of going hog-wild and never learning to actually enjoy the experience. All in all what I’m saying is nothing new, you can find notes of this philosophy – albeit with less references towards sex and chocolate – in the ideas of Epicurus and the Buddha, to name a few.

In fact it was learning this path of moderation, “the Middle Path” between asceticism and over-indulgence, which ultimately led the Buddha to supposedly reach enlightenment. Now, my goals aren’t as lofty as transcending our plane of existence or any such arcane mumbo-jumbo; quite the contrary, I want to learn how to be a rational hedonist that actually enjoys the process of existing and finds meaning amidst the turmoil of life. I still love going out with people, I love chocolate and I love sex and will likely not change in this attitude ever.

But learning to live properly necessitates knowing that we will one day die, either by our own hand or because destiny willed it so. At the end of it all you will die, and hence your time is finite. Would it not make sense to learn how to use it properly and appreciate it instead of always tilting at ever greater windmills?

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