The Parable of pleasure
Once upon a time, in a kingdom much like this one, lived a Princess named Pleasure. She had been born with the gifts of love and light, generosity and pleasure, and a true faith that everyone – everyone – deserved such gifts, no matter how lost they had gotten along the way.
She was brought up in the darkness of selfishness. She was conceived by a Queen, who believed it was her duty to have a daughter, even though the Queen didn’t get any joy from following the steep and desolate path of obligation. When the Queen realised that the responsibility of motherhood didn’t bring her joy, she blamed the child. The Queen retaliated by lavishing all her unhappiness, lost hopes and disturbing anger on her daughter. The infectious atmosphere worked its charm and showed Pleasure that she should never grow up to be like her mother lest the darkness perpetuate and endure.
She learned the lesson of futility from her father. He had high ambitions and big ideas, and he wanted to be a King among men. He set himself apart from mere mortals and tried to build his empire based on the flaws he saw in other’s plans and endeavours. Instead of offering help and insight to them, when he could see what was needed better than they could, he stole their ingenuity and tried to use it for himself. When his failures got the better of him, the Princess tried to comfort him, but he wasn’t interested in the love a daughter had to give. He wanted to be a saviour and would only accept recognition and accolades from his peers. She learned through his rejection of her that you cannot force anyone to accept pleasure if they don’t want it.
Her original hero was the Prince, her older brother. He was wise and strong, handsome and charming and he captured her imagination and fascinated her. She listened to his poetry, read his books, stole his music and watched him with his friends. He taught her to be fearless, to endure the disillusion, to learn the harder lessons without flinching, to have empathy for those who don’t understand and most importantly; to take her pain, open her heart and create something new with what she discovered there.
When the King banished the Prince from the kingdom, she put the Prince’s most important lesson to the greatest use, and she began to create her life as something new, where the desolation of losing him and the opening of heart intersected.
She first discovered she was the gift of Pleasure when it was taken from her. No one had ever told her what dwelt within, and she didn’t know at the time pleasure was being taken. She would have given it freely, but that it was taken without permission hurt her. She learned that giving pleasure generously, with an open heart, means there is light, but when it is stolen – even though there was seemingly little difference in the act – there was no light, no beauty, nor joy in the pleasure taken. She would guard against that for the rest of her life - not only for herself but for those that take without knowing better.
As she grew up, she saw the glory and wonder of the light, and she wanted to share it. She was surprised to find so many people like her mother and father, who didn’t want it. She came across others who were stingy, which she didn’t understand because pleasure and love were like beauty and creativity – the more you share, the more there is. There was no law of diminishing returns, there was only more and more abundance.
She was horrified to find out that everyone in the kingdom reviled that she wanted to, and in fact did, share her pleasure easily and willingly with people who wanted to share theirs. She couldn’t fathom why she had to limit her sharing by type or kind or volume. What difference did any of that make? She was even more disheartened to find that she should be ashamed of sharing. How could sharing light and love and pleasure be a shameful thing? And she became perplexed in a kingdom that revered greed and hording. Even more troubling was that those who needed pleasure and light most, were judged more harshly and condemned to live without any – and if she tried to give them any, she was condemned even more than they.
First, she resolved to live her life differently so that she wouldn’t restrict the flow of her gifts. It was a daunting task because so many declared that she was rendering her gifts worthless by sharing them without reservation or remorse. But she held to her beliefs and over came the condemnation with which they tried to sully her.
Then she resolved to enlighten by example. If others saw her light grow and strengthen, maybe they might share, too. It was a harder path and not always successful, but along the way she tried to make a difference to those around her – and as time went by, people she encountered began to share a bit more and judge less. They began to question shame and guilt. They began to open up to see the virtue of pleasure and the multiplicity of love, rather than the virtue of purity and the sanctity of singularity or isolation.
One of her most arduous tasks was dispelling the myths of her cousin Jealousy. Jealousy believed that pleasure and attention are a zero-sum game and that if one person was getting some, it was at the expense of someone else. Jealousy tried to smear Pleasure's name by telling everyone that she was fleeting and flaky, untrustworthy, untenable, and that she could leave at any moment and never return. This infuriated Pleasure and she set out the task of creating more and more of herself so that no one would ever fret that there would never be enough for everyone, all the time, whenever they wanted it.
Jealousy then tried to cheapen Pleasure by filtering out her light and her love so all that was left was the degrading, darkness of porn, and Pleasures name started to be discarded and dismissed.
But Pleasure went out of her way to work harder to bring her light to wherever pleasure was sought so that no one was left to feel demeaned by her. She found that those who wanted no pleasure judged those who enjoyed it much too harshly, and she found that those who over indulged wanted to regulate those who enjoyed just enough. What saddened her the most was that most people didn’t believe at their core that they deserved pleasure, much less that they could freely share it with whomever they wanted, and that they didn’t have to feel any remorse for giving or accepting such a truly precious gift.
Along the way, Pleasure found herself enchanted by man, who reminded her of her long-lost hero, the older Prince. She had forgotten the glory and wonder of the Prince, and here was one that was just as charming and strong, insightful, creative and captivating. She wondered what it would be like to give all of herself to one who seemed more deserving than all of the others who had lost sight of the light. She devoted herself to him and him alone, but she came to see that he could not accept the gifts she had to give. And the more he didn’t want her gifts, the more they receded until they were all but gone. And all her beauty and creativity went with them. She became nothing more than a desolate wraith – harsh and shrill, needy and grotesque – and she could feel herself dying an excruciating death.
It was unbearable, and in a moment of utter despair she closed her eyes reminded herself that she was still a giver of light irrespective of whether anyone wanted to take it or if it was blocked by an outside force. And that focussing on the ones who didn’t want her gifts or who were negating her gifts didn’t have to kill her if she could find it in herself to be generous again. The glory of generosity was abundance not drought.
Her faith began to return and she remembered that those that are truly thirsty will find the well springs in time. She remembered the lessons she learned from her father about futility. She reminded herself that she had endured banishment before and that generosity and light could heal those wounds. She remembered that she was never to judge who accepted her gifts, and equally she had no right to condemn anyone who rebuffed them. She remembered the lesson of her mother that serving a duty to which there is no joy perpetuates anger and resentment. And she remembered that defying shame and self-doubt was the triumph of her gifts as long as she honoured their value and never demeaned them.
Most importantly, she remembered that her name was Pleasure, and she had so much more to give.