Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Thursday, 7 November 2013

How to Prolong Pleasure

Britta Huegel

Not what you (might) think (though: why not? As my statistic shows, I have the 'one-and-only-pleasure seekers' in great numbers on my blog, not as followers but in an explicit audience-address at stats, can't get rid of it) 
No, I'm speaking of how to make the most out of something. Out of Everything. 
Example: my balcony. 
A friend of mine sent me an email last week - she was busy to winterise her balcony. With blankets and foil - the whole program. 
"But my roses are still blooming", I said. "And my other flowers too. So why should I?
To cut a pleasure "to be prepared" is in my eyes such a waste! 
Of course, if I still were a gardener, I would start by now in the very last edge, but I have only a big balcony now, I have the weather forecast, and I have strong arms to rush out when frost is sneaking up at the walls of our house. "Don't be such wimps!" I'll shout at my roses, "in real life instead of such a sheltered home as here you will be able to endure those little frosty tweaks!" I might even read to them the chapter out of Saint-Exupéries 'The Little Prince', (no, not the worn thin 'heart thing') to show them that I see through their ridiculous prim affected behaviour... 
Pleasure - my big theme at the moment. 
We are so short of really enjoying pleasure, I think. 
I have a DVD with a beautiful film of Emir Kusturica - Black Cat, White Cat - skip the advertisement and please, please have a look at it, it is such a wonderful film! (Here they put English subtitles underneath, but I think there exists a synchronised English version)

As I wrote to a young German friend about his film 'Danube Sounds' yesterday: 

"... I love their equanimity and their zest for life, the modesty and the pride about the own accomplishments. It doesn't matter whether the trousers leg has a rip: those people live! (...)  They do something with their own hands - this seems to be important to me: if you have to produce something for your own life, it makes you vivid, and proud - here at home they often buy one meagreness after the other, but that doesn't fill their souls, bores them soon, and has to be replaced quickly." 

No - you don't see me running for the 'simple' or 'better' life, I am not one in social romanticism - but I try to bring pleasure into my life by doing and enjoying things. 
Can you imagine: in a survey of a big German health insurance people complained about stress, stress, stress - that might be so, though I bet the generation of my parents had a lot more stress - but when you scrutinised the answers: they counted cooking as stress! Gardening, cleaning the house, looking after their children: stress! 
I think we need a lot of rethinking here. 
This morning, when I woke up, I felt the wonderful warmth of my eiderdown, listened to the drops of rain that clonked on the metal windowsill, lolled and thought: 
"What a wonderful world. Thank you!

PS: Of course now all the sourpussies of the world will tell me that it is not the norm to have an eiderdown, or even to have a roof over my head - I know that, thank you very much, but hey: this is my life - the only one I got - and I am thankful for that! At least I appreciate it - and I think that is quite a lot. 

PPS: If you wonder about the photograph: it is so weird: I took away a sedum which stood in a darker corner beside that draggon - and one stalk tore off - and when I looked at it, three months later: it was still as fresh as a daisy! It is making the most of it, I bet. 


  1. 'This morning, when I woke up, I felt the wonderful warmth of my eiderdown, listened to the drops of rain that clonked on the metal windowsill, lolled and thought:
    "What a wonderful world. Thank you!" '

    Britta, that is beautiful. And it sounds familiar. I am constantly thankful for the heat in my shower, the pillow on my incredibly comfortable bed, running water from the tap (a modern marvel I never cease to wonder at since, over the course of human history, it has been such a rare indulgence.)

    I understand completely that wish to be grateful for the luxuries with which we have been blessed. Why us and not others? An accident of birth? Hard work? Both? In any event, it is good to have the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs secure so that we can ponder the higher things. And it is good that we should be grateful when this is the case.

    I loved this post.

    1. Dear Suze,
      thank you - I know that you are one who is looking at everything with curiosity, joy- and thankfulness - and you look at things with 'new' eyes. Nothing is a 'right' to have, and that's why we are thankful when we get it. To enjoy pleasure we sometimes have to be very obstinate, because a lot of things try to distract the 'monkeymind' in the world of the ten thousand things - so difficult to concentrate, and to see the joy in simple pleasures. To keep one's own touchstone (if that is the right word).

  2. Stranded sedum sprig prolongs itself. In flower language, sedum means "tranquility" --perhaps that is the key to extended life and pleasure.

    1. Wow, Geo., I know quite a lot about plants, but I didn't know that! Didn't think for a minute about the Latin 'sedare', but that has to do with 'tranquility' . which is not my first character trait - but I try to come nearer through meditation. And of course you are right - hectic is the opposite to pleasure. And long life.
      "What does the restless gardener know about the joys of a nap?" is the only quote I found till now concerning a rockery, where we might plant a sedum, I think.

  3. I did watch the excerpt of the film and wanted to see more of it. I agree with you: it's not hedonistic to enjoy life. Every night when I lie down next to my beloved, I give thanks for another day with him. It might not have been a perfect day, and we might have disagreed about something, but the chance to fall asleep in each other's arms is the best part of life. I love that little sedum of yours. Finally planted some of the same kind that I used to grow in Illinois: Autumn Joy. God knows it will have to struggle for survival in this god-awful soil.

    1. Dear Walk2write,
      the film was really a surprise for me: someone recommended it, and I thought: well, well, well - and then suddenly I was hooked!
      Your letter is beautiful, thank you - to love each other (in all situations of life) is wonderful.
      And I guess that you will convince the sedum to thrive - see Geo.'s remark about 'tranquility'.

  4. It strikes me as ironic that those things that supposedly induce stress in some people are the same things that induce pleasure in me. Assuming we only get one life, the way I see it, we should relish every part of it, for we'll "not come this way again." Hedonistic? I don't think so. Just deeply appreciative, and to me, true joy stems from the genuine appreciation and gratitude we feel for the blessings in our lives.

    I love, love, LOVE the image of you reading a passage for "The Little Prince" to your roses.

  5. Dear Susan,
    I also thought it strange what is called 'stress' today. Though I can imagine situations where a mother of three with an elder parent in the house might find it stressful sometimes, I believe in the power of words: if I call something 'stress' I will have another feeling than if I call it 'joy'. As you I also think that it stems from appreciation and gratitude.
    Maybe 'll translate the special passage I mean after this week-end (we have guests) - this translation is not quite easy, but it is the one I love best.