Do you like visiting castles, stately homes, palaces and places of historical interest? Goldfinch has taken me to National Trust properties several times…I must say I have loved our trips. I told him the other day, “I like to think of these visits as “house-hunting”.
This weekend we were in Buckinghamshire and we paid our respects to Claydon House.
Months ago, Goldfinch told me something about himself that I did not really understand. He labelled himself a “hedonist”. I was a bit taken aback. To me that word does not have a connotation I think my father would approve of. “Hi, Dad, I would like you to meet the man I am in love with, he is a hedonist! Isn’t that spiffing?”
I have often pondered over what on earth Goldfinch means when he describes himself as a hedonist. You see he doesn’t drink alcohol except on a rare occasion. Neither does he drink tea or coffee. I ply him with water and juice when he comes to visit me. I have occasionally seen him order a Coca-cola in a pub – but that’s not a marked sign of hedonism is it?
He does not smoke or use any substances that alter the mind or give an artificial high. He plays badminton, occasionally squash. He draws and paints. He is a serious gamer – and I don’t mean the gambling kind – I am talking about board-games like “Dominion”. He likes the cinema. He likes music. He likes travelling and hiking. He likes my home-cooking (brave man) and all the cakes I have baked for him. He is also a hard worker. All of these are great interests, but none of them strike me as synonymous with hedonism.
This weekend I finally grasped what drives Goldfinch.
He here is indulging in pleasure seeking at it’s best!
There was a mulberry tree and as soon as Goldfinch saw he was excited. He was eating the fruit right off the tree and picking perfectly ripe berries and placing them in between my lips. He had red juice all over his fingers and all over his mouth.
He was glowing with pleasure! Today I saw a little boy who grew up with a mulberry tree in his back garden and was intoxicated with the pleasure the mulberry fruit brought him.
The latest treat I am sending in the post, wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap – mulberry jam.
You will probably concur with the definition of HEDONIST I found online: “a person who believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life; a pleasure-seeker”.
I don’t consider myself a hedonist. I enjoy pleasure, but it is definitely not the most important thing in life to me. I consider joy as superior to pleasure. Joy sometimes results from having to say no to what may seem pleasurable for sound and wise reasons. My parents taught us to focus on a long-term view and how to reap joy and deep satisfaction from being able to look back at persistent efforts and have no regrets or troubled conscience. My parents emphasised the need for balance. So a word like “hedonism” seemed an assault with the mindset we have cultivated.
Goldfinch knows how to relax. He knows how to enjoy life. He is willing to try new things and is adventurous. If he doesn’t see any harm in something and he thinks it will likely be pleasurable, he will give it a try.
Seeing Goldfinch intoxicated by the pleasure the mulberry tree gave him, made me fall in love with him all over again. I told him as we walked along hand-in-hand, “Until today I never really understood what you mean when you described yourself as a hedonist.” I asked him later when we were relaxing in the park together: “Would you like to live forever?”
Now that I have seen how Goldfinch lives his life – unshackled by bad habits I would normally associate with hedonists, but rather, making the most of his time away from work. Enjoying life and creation and letting the pleasure ripple through him. I like it. I am not ashamed of his kind of hedonism at all!