Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Habitual pleasures

Posted on September 25, 2018 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – August 26, 2018 – 12:00am

When people live past 60 years old, they think that life is pretty much a settled thing. Most of their dreams have been achieved. Milestones have been crossed. They like to reward themselves with simple pleasures. It keeps life going.

Many are already set in their ways and are comfortable with old habits they have acquired through the years. Some of these habits have become part of daily life. It gives them comfort and indulging in them gives them a sense of ritual and structure.

I have friends who can talk about how they like their coffee in great detail. They have cultivated the habit of coffee drinking through decades. They talk about the origins, flavors and how imbibing coffee makes them feel good. They meet together just to drink and enjoy coffee.

Some classmates have formed a group that meets occasionally to enjoy the pleasures of whisky and scotch. No, they don’t go on a drinking binge. They just enjoy their malt.

Some people consume wine with regularity and relish. My wife and her friends just love wine. Wine can be a whole universe in itself to explore and enjoy. There are so many types to choose from. There’s Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Bordeaux, Chiraz, Merlot, etc. Then there are the countries and regions where they come from, and the year when they were put in bottles. For many of my friends and members of my immediate family, drinking wine has become a habit when we get together. Unfortunately, I can only take an occasional half glass and that’s about it. Beyond that, I turn red and experience palpitations.

Some people talk about their spiritual and religious practices. Going to Mass, praying to God and the saints regularly, praying the rosary have become part of their daily habit for years and years. They get a sense of purpose and meaning doing this.

The habits I talk about here are routines of behavior. There are habits you do unconsciously. I am talking about habits that are consciously indulged in which bring pleasure and joy in life. They are meant to be enjoyed and savored. These habits can also become passions.

I have engaged in many habits and hobbies and passions throughout my life. There is music primarily. Playing the guitar and piano, listening to music for hours and hours are things I still love to do. I even sing in my mind sometimes.

In my 40s, I got into scuba diving. It lasted quite a long time. I used to go diving every weekend. When I would not dive for three weeks, I would miss it terribly. I only stopped when one of my dive buddies, Redford White, died of cancer. I can still get into diving but at a slower pace now. Maybe I will continue.

When I turned 60, I took up coffee. Yes, you read that right: I drank my first full cup of coffee when I became a senior citizen. Prior to that, I don’t remember drinking coffee except to taste it. My mom, who was a coffee drinker, told me when I was a child not to drink coffee because, during those days, many believed coffee stunted growth. So I had an aversion to coffee for most of my life. At 60, I figured I was probably beyond any physical phase where I would still grow taller. And I’d always wanted to understand why my wife loves her coffee so much.

About once a week, I drink a cup or two. I take brewed coffee. That’s about as adventurous I am with coffee right now. I still haven’t taken to it enough to say that I have developed the habit.

One habit I have fully embraced in my 60s is eating chocolates. Almost every night now I take a square or two from a Lindt bar and savor them with great relish. I especially like dark chocolate. My refrigerator is full of different kinds and brands. Aside from Lindt, there are Frey, See’s, Royce, Godiva, Toblerone, Cote D’or, Tim Tams, among many others. I hardly take milk chocolate; the milk bothers my stomach. On occasion, I take white chocolates but those can taste too sweet. I like the smoothness and the sweetness of all kinds of chocolate but prefer dark overall. I particularly enjoy chocolate with 85 percent cocoa. Every time I travel, I always buy some to make sure I have chocolates wherever I find myself.

Another thing I have started taking interest in is plants. I have a modestly sized garden with lots of varieties of plants, shrubs, creepers, a few trees and herbs that Lydia is cultivating. We even have a few fruit trees like mango, avocado, mulberry, lanka, papaya and guava. Every morning, I walk around the garden to look at flowers, or notice new buds that have sprung overnight. I love the idea of cultivating and caring for living things and watch them grow and flourish.

Then there is my devotion to exercise. I go to the gym three to four times a week and do one hour or so of stretches, sit-ups, pushups, planks, pull-ups and a few machines. I can say that it has become a habit, because I actually miss doing it when I am unable to exercise. I miss the pain and the sweat, and the endorphins that come with exercise. There is that great feeling of personal achievement, and general well-being after.

Habits like taking coffee, alcohol, smoking cigars are okay in moderation. I like to think a little poison occasionally may be good for you. Some habits are still safe in large doses. But the general rule is do not have too much of anything.

Anything in excess is most likely not good.

It has been said that saints are the hardest people to live with. Even too much religiosity may not be desirable. Too much heaven may not be good for mortals!

In matters that give pleasure, the way to enjoy them is to indulge just enough so that it keeps on giving and giving every time.


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