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in: A Man's Life, Sunday Firesides

Sunday Firesides: Gnaw Your Bone

The first few dozen times you listen to a killer new album, the experience is nigh near euphoric. The songs just seem to get better and better with each “spin.” Eventually though, they start to lose some of their verve, and you listen to the album less and less frequently, until it drops off your regular playlist.

This parabolic arc of pleasure occurs in our encounters with every novel and rewarding stimulus, from relationships to material possessions. The “buzz” rises, peaks, and then descends as the new and exciting becomes the routine and expected. 

To get the buzz back at this point, you can take a break from the stimuli. Or you can seek out new stuff.

But what about things like your spouse, the place you live, and your job, which you can’t take a hiatus from? Things that, should you ever hope to build into something meaningful, can’t be constantly traded in for newer models? 

How do you maintain your delight in the things you’re committed to for the long-term?

Not by looking outwards, in a restless search for change. But by drilling downwards, exploring life’s deeper, underappreciated layers.

Fully attune your senses when you eat, make love, and play with your kids; taste the nuanced flavors in food, look your lover in the eyes, smell your child’s skin.

Take a walk down a familiar street, but at night. Find the unexplored paths that lie outside everyone’s door.

Resist the temptation to think you already know everything about your partner; there are always stories yet untold, and as no one steps in the same river twice, their perspectives are ever shifting. There’s always more to learn.

When life’s pleasures fade, when you’ve eaten all the obvious “meat” off something, remember the marrow.

“Know your own bone,” Thoreau admonished us. “Gnaw it still.”

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