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Jan 10

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Waste No Pleasures

The forms of most of our pleasures are learned from those around us and the media, so we may as well enjoy pleasure in forms that waste nothing and harm nothing.

We naturally enjoy things that keep us alive and healthy?food, drink, fresh air, sex, exercise, friendships, kith and kin, children, new learning, satisfying work, adventures, entertainment, sleep. But we can unfortunately learn to enjoy them in forms that actually harm us or cost us dearly.

You could make a list of things you enjoy that waste nothing. This is not the same as costing nothing, but they are worth the cost.

For example, surfing and swimming are healthy pleasures that can cost only a surfboard or boogieboard, although you may not even need these. They damage nothing and nobody, although there can be a slight risk sometimes. Sailing is more expensive and can be more risky, but harms nothing. On the other hand, a speedboat can be a waste of petrol, annoy whole beachfuls of other people, and even harm others.

Thinking and day-dreaming are great pleasures?and can be fruitful rather than time-wasting.

Gardening can be as waste-free or as waste-ful as you choose to make it.

A continuous series of affairs in relationships may be some people’s idea of pleasure but can harm others and be more stressful and attention-consuming than a loyal intimacy that lasts into the mutual interdependence of old age.

Window-shopping can cost nothing, but ‘shop till you drop’ can be very wasteful when it means collecting possessions you just have to get rid of again. The pleasure of continually getting new things is more wasteful than the pleasure of enjoying your old things.

Walking, cycling, reading, singing, meetings, chatting, crafts and hobbies, playing, inventing, pottering in sheds, looking up Bonzer! How many pleasures are cost-free or practically so . . .

Some pets hardly cost anything and never bite anyone?others are expensive or risky to keep.

Gambling with money is possibly the most wasteful pleasure, and is mixed up with a lot of non-pleasure too, for even with winners there are losers. There are more socially useful ways to take risks.

Car racing and airshows are possibly the most wasteful spectator sports in their waste of fuel and materials, and gladiator sports like boxing and some top football waste the health of the combatants.

A picnic can be a memorable no-waste experience, but if you go in a 4-wheel-drive leaving tracks on the river-banks and ruts and dust where there is forest and bushland, and leave your litter around, then the countryside remembers your picnic longer than you do.

A party can be well worth the food and drink and organizing, but not if people risk their health, hearing and relationships with drugs, drink and excess of strobes and heavy music.

Public celebrations and processions and shows can be great fun. They usually cost something, but can give pleasure to thousands. On the other hand, they can be wasteful ‘circuses’ to keep people quiet when they should be protesting about injustices.

When what is left after having fun is a lot of rubbish to get rid of, then that pleasure is too wasteful.

I have a wonderful illustrated children’s book called People by Peter Spiers, 1981, which I wish Pan Macmillan would reprint. It has separate pages on what people are like and what they do, all over the world. Here is a page of pleasures that can be no-waste. (There are other pages of pleasures too, such as pages of games of all countries)

And of course, if you don’t enjoy pleasures, that is a waste too.

Wordsworth was a very economical poet, wandering around the Lake District like a lonely cloud and writing poems about daffodils and simple folk. Cost?nothing, Rewards?permanent, both for the memories and the poetry.

‘The music in my heart I bore Long after it was heard no more’

? Valerie Yule

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