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The Mask of Pleasure

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

Gratification vs. Catharsis

Saturday, December 31st, 2022


Women compare themselves to rubies and men, themselves to gold. Yet, all someone has to suggest to us is, "I'll heal your pain. I'll soothe your worries, I'll ease your fears," and we'll follow them like a lost dog, barely able to question their intentions or their methods.

We act as if life will not be soaked with problems and troubles throughout its entire timeline, but it will be (and that's okay!). Deep down I think we all know that, but we still choose to ignore it. We'd much rather blindfold ourselves to the pressures of life than willingly accept any notion of the entertainment in its challenge. Just look at ourselves. We can't go a single day without sucking nicotine through a plastic stick, drowning our sorrows with beer and wine, or sleeping with the next person who's on our roster.

Anything to rid me of my stress! Anything to keep me from my own company! Anything to suppress my struggles, and anything to numb the pain!

Oh, spare me. People forget how jewels and precious metals are made! Extreme heat coupled with extreme pressure over vast amounts of time. I'd be willing to bet, though, that most of us (including myself) will barely step a foot outside of our comfort zones over the course of our entire lives, but life is still a torture apparently. Especially with our smartphones and drugs, and especially when we repent on Sundays. But don't get me started on our dreams.

I just want high sexual chemistry! I just want fortune and fame! I just want to stay young forever!

They forget they waste their high sexual chemistry on dozens, if not scores, of people. They forget money cannot be taken with them after the grave, much less purchase something as basic as happiness. They forget time and age are inevitable.

But my weekly church visit on Sunday will save me! My sins will be atoned for then!

Those are the same people who so conveniently forget their repentance to sleep with whomever they find attractive enough, or whomever is simply around to cure their phobia of loneliness. That's besides all the mindless partying, too. I've little doubt that the sheer minute when Sunday ends, the next cycle of their indulgence begins.

Is there a narrower box we can place ourselves into? Sex and gratification … really? We're like thoroughbreds with blinders on, desperately racing toward who can satisfy our sexual desires the fastest. The contest and its spoils can be exhilarating at times, I'll give you that, but there's always a finish line. We behave as though we were bred for that race and only that race!

How dull and unremarkable.

That's not to mention our habits. Alcohol and nicotine everyday like a damned routine. Right on cue, get a heavy, daily dose of sugar, intoxicants, chemicals, and dopamine! It's almost terrifying enough to be beautiful, its process. It's often not a quick one, but a slow and encroaching one. It threads like wool a stitch at a time through our innards over years upon years until one day our arteries harden, and our organs fail. Until "all of a sudden" our hearts just stop—give out—expire, like they were nothing more than a fucking microwave timer.

What better way to go about living life than the pursuit of instant gratification?

Here, take this pill and you'll see wonders. Here, smoke a little of this and you'll be happy. Here, drink a few of these and you'll feel euphoric. Here, I'll keep you company just for tonight. Wait, don't put this on and you'll be in ecstasy.

Yet no one seems to read the fine print. No one seems to question what lurks behind the locked door or the shadows cast from the candlelight. Nor do they appear to think a single day into the future—a mere 24 hours ahead. All the same, neither does it look like they even care! So, what's the possibility they'll think a few decades ahead?

Whatever the possibility may be, it's a mirthless one.

Oh, those pills? Yeah, they're addictive.

Yikes, those smokes? They'll ruin your body.

Right, those drinks? They'll destroy your insides.

Hmm, can't handle alone time? Complete dependency on others is a helluva threat.

For God's sake, not using protection? That'll risk your health with sickness and disease, not to mention offer the chance for life itself (most definitely if you're not ready).

But hey, there's a bright side, my dear friendat least you'll feel good for a night!

I doubt there's really any better way to discover the true meaning of numbness, but no one considers that until it's too late. And I know it's possible I could choke on these useless words if a pretty woman lay beside me or my friends offered me a drink, but at least I can feel the terror churning inside my gut as I wonder how much regret I'll stoke in my future by choosing instant gratification over delayed catharsis. I can have my one-night stands and all the drugs in the world, but what is the point?

Oh, my dear friend, can't you see? There isn't one.

Why not enjoy everything while it lasts, though? What's so wrong with constant hedonism if life is simply meant to be lived? Let me offer a suggestion, and bear with me because I know it's insane. It's a wild concept I like to call moderation.

No, my life has to be straightforward, and most importantly persistently pleasurable, and also where I don't have to change! Please, dear God, no change! I don't want to leave the comfort of blacking out drunk every night of the week besides Sundays and sleeping with anyone I wish!

I wonder if they see it, then. We're so enthralled ... no, too enthralled ... by something as brittle as casual sex and things as frail as alcoholic drinks to even consider the notion of moderation, let alone have the courage to try it. We hide behind a laughable mask of "finding ourselves," when we've known who we were all along; we're just too afraid to take a second look. After all, finding oneself seems like a good excuse despite how unbearably see-through it is, and pleasure clearly feels gratifying, so why would anyone in their right minds want to leave its cozy, never-ending embrace? A good question, one of which I have no doubt few will ever escape.

Women compare themselves to rubies and men, themselves to gold—but, in reality, they're more like coal. Nothing but the fuel to pursue their own pleasures and impulses.

Translation: Regret, regret, regret—a corrosive feeling that dooms us all unless the choices we make today are weighed well with our futures in mind.
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