Living Like a Hedonist

Photo courtesy of Leonid Afremov

At 18 years old, a sixth of my life is quite possibly already over, maybe even a fifth. Never again will I be absolutely absolved from responsibility, the way I was when I was three and had all the time in the world, sparing not a thought to matters that did not involve Clifford the Big Red Dog. All that stretches before me is a sea of taxes and Social Security and grocery shopping — truly an appealing prospect.   

My God, how fleeting and fragile life is! But to my thinking, while we’re here, there’s no reason not to enjoy ourselves. I’ve never bought into the “existence is futile and meaningless” crap. It seems like such defeatist thinking. Doesn’t perpetual bitterness get tiring after a while? Isn’t constant cynicism exhausting to maintain?

I would call myself a hedonist, though that invites negative connotations. A hedonist is, to many minds, someone who engages in mass debauchery: wild orgies and gross overindulgence and the like. The word hedonism is evocative of sex, because sex is the highest and purest form of pleasure, right?

That’s not what I mean. The ticket is to appreciate the simple things: the smell of rain, loose leaf jasmine tea and Leonid Afremov paintings. Yeah, it’s cliche, but it’s true. Finding beauty in the mundane, putting a positive spin on whatever crosses your path, because that’s just so much more fun. Being alive wasn’t a choice, but you’ll sure get a hell of a lot more out of it if you stop taking it so seriously. Don’t you want to feel good, genuinely good, rather than the perverse pleasure derived from hunkering down in your basement and festering in your own misanthropy, secure in your self-perceived superiority over your fellow human beings?    

I simply cannot fathom why one would choose to commit suicide. Why cut your life short, when it’s still saturated with potential droplets of pleasure? You’ve never ordered a crepe in a Paris cafe or bathed in the crystalline Reykjavik hot springs or stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon and shouted your name to hear it reverberate against the rust red ravines. There is so much yet to explore. If I could, I would snatch up all the time you relinquished when you decided to end it all and add it to my own stockpile. I would never have enough to check off everything on my bucket list.

Of course, I grew up — am growing up — surrounded by a dense layer of packing peanuts, safely cushioned from the crushing blows life is capable of dealing. I freely admit to my naivete. But I have only my own experience upon which to base my philosophies, and I find it incredible that people would choose to throw away the greatest gift they have ever received.

I want to travel this world and experience everything it has to offer me, soak it all in. I want to milk every last droplet of pleasure from my existence, wring it dry, until it crumbles into a powdery dust. Except I can’t. In this capitalistic society, free spirits and independent thinkers are actively discouraged; all America wants is another automaton to join the workforce. I’d need money to carry out my dreams, and to obtain money, I’d need to work, and by the time I’d have retired, my bones will creak and my joints will ache and any opportunity of carrying out my dreams will have slipped away quietly while I was preoccupied with the daily nine-to-five grind.