Our culture is engineered to avoid and defer pain into the future, but also to avoid and defer pleasure. Our capacity to feel pleasure has atrophied. I’m talking about really, really deep joy, an experience of the richness of life; the experience of relationship that’s almost too much to take, it feels so good. “I can’t believe that life can be this beautiful!” It challenges normalcy, and it Invites us into a release of control, the control that has enabled us to maintain life as it has been. It’s safer to avoid these intense feelings of pain or pleasure, because they challenge the whole setup of modern society.
We have been living attenuated lives, half-lives really. On some level, everyone knows that life is supposed to be more than what has been handed to us as “normal”. Experiences of really deep pleasure and joy remind us of that. They awaken a knowing and make normal life seem a little less normal and a little less tolerable, because you’ve experienced something else, and it calls you forever toward that possibility. The experience lives inside you and will never let you be fully satisfied again with the old normal.