“This short-term pleasure will only last so long.”

I am ashamed of myself for neglecting my blog for virtually the entire month of December. I have been grading and grading and grading as those student essays, projects, major papers, portfolios, and finals juggernaut in.

The bright side is More Grist for the Mill.

My student was writing about the role of pleasure in the formation of unhealthy eating habits. She meant to say that the pleasure of appetite gratification is temporary, while the bad effects accrue over time and produce lasting suffering. Very true. But instead of saying “That Big Mac with cheese is only a short-term pleasure,” she began with “This short-term pleasure …” and then sought a verb that would emphasize the point. The point, of course, was that the pleasure was only short-term, and so unless she was going contrast it with long-term something-or-other the sentence really had nowhere to go, other than to double back on itself. Rather than start the sentence over, or express the other half of the thought, back she doubled.

And so she didn’t really write what she meant, or at least she didn’t manage to write all of what she meant.

What she DID write was a poignant, if self-defining, reminder of the ephemeral nature of pleasure (in this life of pain and toil). So young and yet so wise, or so disillusioned….

On the other hand, we might view her statement as less a cri de coeur than a carpe diem, and in that sense it’s not a bad reminder for the approaching family gatherings; parties; exchanges of gifts; lightings of candles and fireworks; quaffings of nogs, punches, and champagnes; samplings of cookies and candies; singings of auld-lang-synes: this short-term pleasure will last only so long [note that I myself prefer to place the modifier as close as possible to the word modified], so enter into the joy of the season whole-heartedly, appreciate the pleasures to the full. There’s a lot of winter yet to come, and the warm, bright memories will flicker still even into the darks and damps of January and February.

Especially if you’ve turned in your grades.

About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

7 responses to ““This short-term pleasure will only last so long.”

  • philosophermouseofthehedge

    Honestly, this might make a good t-shirt logo…or tattoo.
    Glad to see your post – Jingle loudly and with joy! Wishing you all the merry.

  • solberg73

    Not one to give short-shrift to short-term pleasures, I make-do by eager anticipation, full concentration during the fleeting moment, and memory tricks developed to fill in the long off-seasons. I get more out of a Happy meal than an entire herd of less savvy eaters.
    (And I liken the pleasure of reading your every entry to a guy gazing at art, not knoving much except that ‘something’s vrong’ and having you appear , like Rod Serling from off stage and carefully explain vat vent vrong. (Our torrential rains in Israel destroyed my ‘double-you’ key. I miss it some, but having a full alphabet lasts only so long.)
    By the vay, since you asked, my latest post is a silly spoof tutorial on the Estonian language. A ‘Spifi’, I guess.

  • Susan P

    I’ve often written like that in my rough drafts only to return and play with the words until they run smoothly. Thanks for sharing.

  • yearstricken

    I hope you are resting now from the task of grading. Of course, you realize the short break will only last so long. 🙂 Happy Holidays!

  • philosophermouseofthehedge

    You know despite all the concern about ineptness, writing does give hope about inventiveness and creative thought of humans – who knows, brilliance does spill out sometimes.
    Enjoy the never long enough holidays

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