The Secret Of Permanent Pleasure
( Originally Published 1916 )
HOW can I get the most out of life?
How can I keep from having that sense of dissatisfaction from coming to bed with me of nights?
How can I have, for my visitor at the close of day, that feeling of content, that the gone twenty-four hours were worth while?
Tell me that. Tell me a cure for my disgust of self, for that ash-taste of self-consciousness, for that irritation in reflection, for that perpetual turning to tomorrow in order to drown the bitterness of today, as a fool turns to his cups to forget his life-weariness.
Well, this hint may help : THE SECRET OF PERMANENT PLEASURE LIES IN CULTIVATING EVER HIGHER FORMS OF PLEASURE.
The savage eats raw flesh, the civilized man wants it cooked, the more civilized man likes it well cooked.
The value of culture is the refinement of wants.
In a dumb, silly way the world perceives this, and tries to show superiority in forms of pleasure that are unusual, expensive,, and exclusive. It dines at tawdry hotels, wears costly jewels, preens itself in fine clothes and wraps itself in rich furs.
This is the twisted, perverted notion of what is a great truth.
All luxury and extravagance soon become coarse and degrading to real souls. The Upper Ten get around to the crassness of life of the Submerged Tenth.
They are victims of the Great Delusion.
The Great Delusion is that it is Complexity that indicates higher life; whereas it is Simplicity, developing into ever greater Fineness (Refinement).
The roads to more permanent pleasures are these : Religion, Philosophy, Love, Art, Craftsmanship and Nature.
By Religion I mean a reverent habit of mind, a sense of wonder and mystery, a realization that we live in a world of spiritual meanings. Unless you can attain to this your life must always be mean and hard. Of course, I refer to no religious institution, but to that religious feeling that has always marked great lives.
By Philosophy I mean that you must have some sort of programme for your life. So long as events to you are but a disordered mess of "happenings" you will be miserable; the football of fate. You must have certain foundation principles, some settled theory of life that will bring order out of chaos.
By Love I mean that you must have the power to idealize your crude instincts. Lust sates, sickens, wearies. Love, which is the idealization of passion, is eternal, ever fresh.
By Art I mean the expression of the higher powers of the mind in creating beautiful things. When you learn to love a Greek Temple more than the gingerbread house of a New York millionaire, a painting by Israels or Millet more than a chromo, the wit of Charles Lamb more than that of Joe Miller, the charm of Michelangelo's "Moses" more than the huge parlor-clock monuments in some of our parks, a Beethoven quartet more than cabaret music, a story by Hawthorne more than one of the modern sex-soaked or adventure-choked romances, such a play as Barrie's "The Admirable Crichton" more than a cheap and loud melodrama, and, in general, all things that have the quietness of power, the self-restraint of genius and the subtlety of intellectual vision, then you have come considerably toward the point where your PLEASURES ARE MORE PERMANENT and have less nauseating dregs.
By Craftsmanship I mean that skill that transforms work from drudgery to enchantment.
And by the love of Nature I mean that patient study of, and eventual delight in, the marvellous design, perfection and handicraft exhibited by everything that grows, by everything the Creator has made.
THE SECRET OF PERMANENT PLEASURE will be found by any one who will make it his life business to seek his satisfaction in these six sources.
Thus you may come to that rational DELIGHT IN YOUR OWN THOUGHTS, such as Robert
Bridges, the new laureate of England, expresses :
"My thoughts swim like a ship, that with the weight