The Search Continues

Human beings are pleasure seekers. The reason there are books is because we are pleasure seekers. A writer seeks that book that brings her the most pleasure as she writes it, and a reader scours the bookshelf for a story that will bring him the most pleasure as he reads it. The search for pleasure never ends. I believe that it’s what we are made of. Yet it is this very search for pleasure that has landed me in so much trouble. The drugs and the bad sex; the jobs taken just for the money; the second dish of ice cream; the shoes I couldn’t afford. I must become disciplined. I must seek balance where before I sought pleasure.

But it never works. Even as I tell myself not to seek pleasure I peek at my own heart to see if there is pleasure in denying myself pleasure! What are those Buddhists doing up in the hills? I would meditate, but I can’t turn off my attention. My attention is eternally on, and my attention is always seeking one thing and one thing only—pleasure.

And then one day I was sitting in my backyard with my cat. It took me a moment, but I realized I was happy. I say this, because I understood somehow that I was not happy because I was petting my cat, or because it was sunny, or because I was in my backyard—I was simply happy because I existed. The happiness was attached to nothing whatsoever. It was simply there.

And then it was gone. I thought, “I must seek it again.” And like that, I understood. Now I knew what to do with my attention that could never turn off. Now that attention had a job. That attention must seek the happiness of nothing. That is happiness’s source.

It was good to know. Life has always felt like a search to me, and I have always been a bit like a dog that is never happy without a bone for which to dig. I’ve ruined a lot of yards in my efforts, but perhaps that is over now. So much of getting older is learning how to do something while you appear to be doing nothing.

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