by Jordan Pennells
“A World Of Luxury… For Those With Discerning Taste”.
Pick up an issue of Epicurean Life magazine, and their advocated lifestyle involves diamond-studded clothes, voluptuous women and even sexier cars. Epicurus, the magazine’s ironically misguided namesake, would be turning in his grave. His philosophy insists pleasure does not materialise by basking in the aesthetics of material goods, but in the appreciation of an ascetic life. Serenity does not transpire in the presence of luxury, but within living in the present moment.
The pursuit of happiness doesn’t require a detailed plan or extravagant activity to precipitate itself. In fact, the best recipe is a tranquil location, fine friends and embracing the frugality of a natural life. And we were willing to go to the extreme.
In an attempt to renunciate ourselves from the worldly distractions that wrenches one out of the conceptual ‘moment’, a camping escape was planned to the far reaches of Noosa North Shore. The smooth sailing of highway driving was abruptly interrupted when we hit beach access, with the 4 wheels driving themselves in and out of pre-ploughed tracks in the sand. As we careered parallel to the shoreline, campsites began to dwindle until the portrait out the window faded into an untouched landscape. Our site was far from a 5-star vista, but a patch of beach secluded from the salty ocean mist spraying from the mouth of the waves. This was our home base. A steep yet sandy hill sectioned off the back of our patch, with a rolling sand dune at the front hiding us from any other adventurers. Looking up and down the stretch of beach, the landscape perpetuated into a salty haze in both directions, with no signs of life, excepting the heaving respiration of waves.
If the key to happiness was abstinence from all forms of indulgence, then we were on the path to ecstasy. As a group, the four of us had made a ritual of watching the weekly instalments of Survivor, immodestly attesting to our ability to withstand any and every challenge thrown at us. It was time to walk the walk, as we individually trekked outside of eyesight, to set up our abode for the next 24 hours.
Hours in, with the extent of my provisions comprising a Bic lighter, frypan and axe, I had a fire broiling a substantial collection of pipis within a seawater broth. The grittiness of this sand filtering crustacean was not enough to deter from the most satisfyingly sourced meal of my life. I was thriving in this ascetic environment, and with a sudden appreciation of Epicurus’ philosophy, happiness crashed over me in time with the waves on the beach.
Regrouping at base camp the following day, my friends told horror stories of 3-inch horsefly attacks and food poisoning from ill-cooked seafood. Although I had experienced these to an extent, realisation told me that happiness was kindred in the ability to deflect adversity and continue in the ‘moment’.
At the very least, stepping under the shower at home was unadulterated euphoria.
Note: This post makes up an assessment piece for a Creative Writing course, with the general topic of Happiness, in case you were wondering why I was getting all sentimental.