My friend Kelly sat at City Park watching a wild lightning storm roll in from the mountains and sipping cider with her friend Lilly. It was one of those storms you remember—nonstop flashing and glowing, billowing thunderheads. I remember because I was watching it from the other side of town. Kelly told me later that she’d leaned over to her friend and said, “This is so romantic—this should be a date!”
“Why?” I asked. Of course, the moment was tinged with magic, and ripe with romance. But the more we discussed it, the more we realized we miss out on beauty in life if we think romance is only special when you’re with a significant other. It’s wonderful to share exceptional experiences with people we love, but are we—especially women—somehow subconsciously unaware we’re worthy of savoring that pleasure or romance all to ourselves? Or maybe when we’re alone we feel too busy to sit and soak in the beauty around us or take pleasure in a moment?
A psychotherapist trying to help her clients get in touch with pleasure gave some surprising advice. Her clients were mainly busy, high-powered women who, when pressed, admitted that they didn’t feel there was room for pleasure in their lives—they couldn’t relax or felt too busy to experience desire. The therapist started by asking them to pay extra attention when they washed dishes. She instructed them to slow down, tune into the sensations and allow themselves to focus on the simple enjoyment of the warm bubbles and soft aroma of the soap. Her ultimate goal was to help open them to pleasure in the bedroom, but her tactic makes sense on a much wider scale, too.
The psychotherapist explained that as you begin to open up to moments of pleasure throughout the day, you practice tuning into your senses and ultimately being more present in each moment.
My grandma, who passed away earlier this year, was great at grabbing moments and savoring them. If she saw the bright moon peeking into her window, she’d get up—all by herself in the middle of the night—to go look at it. I don’t know what the neighbors thought, or if they ever noticed her wander into the street to get a better view. I’m sure there were times when she missed her deceased husband or wished to share the view with someone, but she still made a point of enjoying the beauty of the moment all by herself.
Romance and pleasure aren’t just for lovers. And if we while away the beautiful moments of life wishing we could share it with a specific other person, we’ll end up missing out on a lot of awesome, inspiring stuff.
Lately, I’ve started to ask myself, when the sweet-smelling summer breeze blows in my window in the evening, can I savor it just for me? Can I hop on my bike for a night ride and, instead of wishing someone else was there or putting it off for no good reason, go cruising through the moonlit city?
When it comes down to it, we can derive joy or pleasure from just about anything in life. So why not go ahead and relish in the taste of that perfectly ripe avocado or piece of freshly baked bread—even if you’re all alone? Why not take a deep inhale of your morning coffee and cherish it deeply? Why not go on that stunning sunrise hike you’ve been dreaming about—with or without a partner? Romance is where we find it—and we’re all worthy of experiencing it.