“Sedgy” as he was known to his friends, most of them having died of course, him being ninety one, was holding forth to his son on his invigorating approach to “Living.”
“Well, the first fifteen or sixteen years, as you know, are not really your’s to control, and all kinds of crap normally happens to the best of us. We take the next five to ten years getting over our childhood and then, wham, we can set out on the voyage of life: that’s what I did anyway. My motto has always been “Enjoy excess in moderation” and I’ve lived by that motto all my life. I messed up your life in an attempt to sort out my own messes which I’m sad to say is normal: that is human history. “What did that teach you though. What made you so absorbed by living” asked his intrigued son,
“Well, I never drank more than a half bottle of wine a day and smoked nothing but tobacco and even that in limited quantities. I was faithful to my wife of the day most of the time, but not obsessively. That kiss in the theatre with the boy or girl you work with while you are supposedly “working late” will warm the cockles of your heart long after the hours of dour dutiful living are meant to do so.
Enjoy your marriages as I did, but don’t have too many of them. I could have enjoyed more, but four was all I could afford with the escalating price of alimony. Travel as much as you can, and eat the cuisine of every continent: they all have something to tell you. Reserve your kindness for strangers: that will fill your life with wonder. Friends might love you but they always colour your life with doubt. If they view you with kindness it is because you are experiencing more chaos than them, and that is a balm to those who know you but not to yourself. Of course, friends view you with sympathy or kindness always, but are too informed by your failings none the less.
“Wow” I said, that’s not your every day advice. Didn’t that record cause you any pain.”
“Of course it did” the old man replied, “But pain is one of life’s certainties, and trying to avoid it a sure way of missing half its pleasures. I am old now, and largely bedridden but I have smoked, drank and messed around as if the world was ending in the next ten minutes for the entirety of my life and , by God, I’m glad I did. Old now, and barely breathing would I be faithful to your mother if I had to ? Of course I would not. But timid good manners dictated that thought had not occurred to me.
I am a pleasure seeker. Profundity is the road to boring: prophets come and prophets go but pleasure is a constancy, and in seeking it I’ve had some “moments”, and that is all I I’ve gained from life. Those brief interludes when I and others, freed from our responsibilities, drained the cup of rich experience and damned the need for common sense are what I take with me to the grave. Be as boring as you like but if that’s how you choose to live, don’t look to me to save you.
Please yourself, and ride towards the horizon. You will find Paradise is not built close to Complacency or Fear.