The two concepts are often thought to be antithetical, from opposing philosophical frameworks and inconsistent in their expending of energies to achieve. Of the latter, it connotes self-discipline and an aversion, if not outright refusal and avoidance, of any indulgences that are implied by the former. The former, of course, is what most of us strive for — if not openly, then surreptitiously while denying that it is one’s singular goal.
Pleasure in its excesses can be harmful, of course, just as too much of anything can lead to self-immolation through abundance and gluttony. Both, however, have something in common: they are like two sides of the same coin, where life doesn’t allow for the existence of one without the recognition of the other.
Thus: Being cannot be distinguished without Nothingness (e.g., it is because there is the “nothingness” of space between the bookshelf and the wall that you can differentiate between the two entities); life cannot be identified without its opposite —death, or inertness; wealth is created in contradistinction to poverty, or lack thereof; a smile can be recognized, but so can a frown; and so forth and so on.
What the ascetic fails to realize is that the extreme of self-indulgence in striving for pleasurable activities need not be the only methodology of interacting with this world; there are more moderate ways of living than the pure rejection of all pleasure. Conversely, the one who strives only for pleasure — i.e., pleasure as the sole motivator in one’s life and goal-seeking — fails to realize that its corollary — pain — is a necessary posit, and if not rearing its ugly head presently, will do so sometime in the near future.
Pain is an existential reality of life, just as pleasure is the rare interlude that we all seek, and it is the ascetic who has realized that life’s pleasurable moments will often follow with a period of pain, as the reason why some seek to limit the pain by denying all pleasure. That is why monastic orders come into being, and why Zen Buddhism founds its roots in the denial of reality in order to deal with pain — all because pleasure could not be ultimately achieved without the pain that accompanies.
That is the reality that Federal and Postal employees come to realize when a medical condition begins to prevent one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job. Suddenly, those “pleasures” that were once taken for granted — of a health body; of a mind that has focus, concentration, and mental acuity to multi-task on a daily, sustained basis — begin to wither and wane.
Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may become a necessity, and when one is forced to take that necessary step, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.
For, in the end, neither pleasure nor the ascetic have grasped the true point of living a worthwhile life; as worth is determined by the priorities ones sets in the course of existing, one’s health should thus be a major element to achieve within every web of goals set, whether in striving for pleasure or regarding the ascetic who renounced it for the sake of a mistaken belief.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire