Over the last couple of years, I’ve been meeting Paul and cooking up delicious storms on a plate. I met Paul on an random evening in February 2021, and he introduced himself as a vegan chef. I was immediately intrigued, and started to talk to him more. I remember him mentioning that he also baked bread, and as someone who absolutely loves to bake bread I asked him if he could teach me. He gladly accepted and we began our adventures in the realms of cooking. As we began forging our friendship over pots and pans, our conversations started taking on more and more philosophical flavours.
The last time we met, I was complaining about the meaningless of life, and how it is pointless over an amazing plate of Barley and Lentils, and Scrambled Tofu. That’s when Paul called me out and asked me to examine what I really meant when I said life is meaningless. He asked me to define meaning, or define the point before calling life pointless. I paused and thought about what I really meant when I whined about the futility of it all.
He went on to talk about how we are often too quick to fall on either side of the debate over the meaning of life. Often people are dejected that their efforts didn’t yield them results that they desired, and so they simply call it all pointless. I guess, that’s a way to cope with the reality that is presented to them.
I tried to put a finger on what I meant when I said that life is meaningless, and I understood that this was my way to cope with the fact that I was in a place where I didn’t know what I desired anymore. I would say my life is quite comfortable, at a time when the temperature outside is about -20°C, I am writing this piece in my shorts in a cozy 20°C apartment, with a fridge full of food. So when it comes to material stuff, I don’t think I need more.
At this point, an echo of the thought about how humans are not really good at abundance took over me, and Paul also brought in the thought that the crisis of modernity is that we’ve been robbed of meaning and connection. The pursuit of success and a better life, often comes at the price of human connection and relationships. This to me is the conundrum of modernity.
As we reached the end of our meal, Paul also pointed out how we’re not isolated units despite the times we live in. Our lives affect other lives, and they will in turn affect other lives. So even if I believe that my own life is meaningless, I will still affect other lives. As someone who believes in karma, this one hit me quite hard. Somehow I’d become so focussed on myself and my ego, that I’d forgotten about the rest of the universe.
And with that heavy meal, we moved on to a have light dessert. We had a couple of sweeties, and some pomegranate seeds over a mutual appreciation of the delightful food and company.
It was a good meal, both for the body and the soul.