The On-Ramp to Pleasure Mountain–Ecclesiastes 2:1-3

I’ve been “ramping up” lately. What I mean by that is probably not what you mean. In reality, I’ve been building a ramp so that people in wheelchairs, power chairs, walkers, or other conveyances can get onto my deck and, from there, into the house without navigating the incredibly challenging steps–two of them–that lead into the front door.

If I sound bitter, it’s because Penny has talked me into spending a good chunk of money and a fair measure of my bodily well being getting this project, literally, off the ground. This sort of construction is not much fun. My body aches from two solid days of sawing and measuring and filling and digging, not necessarily in that order. What’s more, this not-fun project won’t lead to fun. It’s not like I’m building some sort of backyard roller coaster. I’m making my house more accessible for people who aren’t exactly the life of any party, ever.

Who ever said that life was supposed to be full of fun, though? All too often, I hear people–kids mostly–who complain about something, saying, “That’s no fun,” as if this were some sort of premium argument clincher. I’m becoming convinced, as my life proceeds apace, that happiness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I suppose I could join the Koheleth fan club.

I said to myself, “Go ahead, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy what is good.” But it turned out to be futile. I said about laughter, “It is madness,” and about pleasure, “What does this accomplish?” I explored with my mind the pull of wine on my body—my mind still guiding me with wisdom—and how to grasp folly, until I could see what is good for people to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. –Ecclesiastes 2:1-3

I enjoy pleasure as much as the next person. Good food is good. Good music is musical. Laughter can be a good deal of fun, but when we’re living for pleasure, then we have to ask ourselves where the actual point is. I know people who absolutely live for fancy food experiences. Others live to cram as much of any sort of food–Pizza Street, I’m thinking of you–into their mouths as possible. And it is all madness.

What’s your pleasure addiction? I’m not talking about traditional addictions. Someone needn’t be a bona fide alcoholic to be addicted the pleasures of fine wine or microbrewed beers. The foodie doesn’t have to be a glutton. Others have pleasure addictions for sports or art, for music or travel. These aren’t bad things, but they shouldn’t be an end in themselves.

This brings me back to that cursed ramp. My body hurts from unaccustomed labor, and I’m not building anything fun. My fingers, as they type these words, ache from gripping a variety of tools, but I’m not increasing the value of my home. So what’s the point? Ecclesiastes would say that there’s no point to anything under the sun, so maybe all I’ve accomplished is to give myself something to write about. But if I take pleasure in that, then again there’s futility.

It seems there’s no way out of this thing.