I am a person of simple pleasures. The enjoyment of a warm book, good (and serious and godly) conversation over good food, the company of friendly people in general and attractive young women in particular, these are all pleasures that I greatly enjoy and that I have yet to tire of. If I indulge in them too much, no doubt I would be like Solomon and find them vanity and futility, but I have not indulged in them to that degree yet. At any rate, today I had the chance to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes, which is to go to a restaurant with people and to continue talking with them until the places is shut down and they are politely asking us to leave, even taking their leftovers with them. I suppose by not taking them up on their offer (I am trying to avoid eating food that has been left out too late in restaurants) I am not truly following the bachelor code, but I don’t mind.
What is the appeal of shutting a place down? As a generally sociable person, I have had the enjoyment often of socializing (which I find energizing) at extremely late hours. Today I ended up talking for what must have been the better part of five hours or so with people I did not know well for the large part (a couple of them I knew a bit in person, and a few of them have been online correspondents in various internet fora and occasional readers of my blog). It was an enjoyable conversation, especially in that it allowed me to see a different side of people and for them to see a different side of me. My nature is not one that can be very easily hidden, particularly in person. The conversation was generally pleasant, sometimes pointed, but it also allowed me to reflect on some rather heavy aspects of my own life and to take stock in blessings and in the narrow margin between comfort and disaster. I suppose that there is a certain sense of accomplishment that one has in having the stamina to speak openly and enthusiastically with people for hours upon end.
This is a pleasure I have enjoyed for a long time. I remember one memorable experience (where I did not end up shutting the restaurant down, but only because it was a 24 hour restaurant) where my love of long conversation with some young fellows after a church dance led to some serious trouble for me because I ended up breaking state curfew laws for minors. There can be too much of a good thing sometimes, and I have found on several occasions that my love of company (especially as a way to overcome my tendency towards loneliness) has led to certain problems of balance, in not paying enough attention to sleep and other concerns and in not always paying enough attention to the limits of how much other people can handle my company and my intensity in one sitting.
One thing I noticed tonight that pleased me was that I did not feel as lonely at the end of a long dinner conversation as I usually have in the past. While it is appealing to know that one’s conversation will outlast the patience of those who are in charge of the venue one is speaking in, in my life there has often deep a deep and unpleasant contrast between my own enjoyment in the company of others in public and the rather intense loneliness I have felt outside of that. Some people tend to crave the comfort and quiet and solitude of home, and I have tended to find the loneliness deeply oppressive. I simply need to do a better job of building intimacy and deep and loving relationships. I could use the practice.