Dinner Time Dreaming
A more beautiful world- is it possible?
This is the story of my day to day life. A story that is maybe similar to yours and to so many other peoples´ around the world.
From my morning commute to that last minute ´what should we have for dinner´ supermarket dash, I reflect on some of my observations of the world I see around me. Is this all we can expect from life or could it be that a more beautiful world is possible?
The morning commute
It´s 8:30 am and I´m on the metro en route to work. The air is hot and clammy and and I´m roasting in my winter coat.
I look around me and wonder about the people. What lies ahead for them for the rest of the day? If they are going to work, are they feeling excited and curious about how they are going to be spending the next 8-9 hours of their lives?
So many faces glued to screens, I wonder whether anyone else thinks that this is as unnatural as I do.
10 hours later and my working day is done and after another stint on the metro (packed again), I stop by the local supermarket. I roam the aisles looking for some inspiration; something good for me and good for the planet.
However this soon turns out to be mission impossible: between the E numbers, palm oil, corn syrup and fact that everything is packaged in plastic, it seems that everything on offer fails my initial criteria on both counts.
´Beep-beep-beep. Bag? Bye. Next!´
When I get to the till, the shop assistant greets me in the usual HR speak, even though I´ve been buying food there for the last 4 years and we see each other at least every other day.
I leave the shop with my bags full but feeling a kind of empty hollowness inside.
And again I wonder if anyone else thinks this is whole set up is as strange and soulless as I do.
I return home tired but I feel content with my day- I enjoy my job and get a lot out of it. However, as I begin to prepare my evening meal I can´t but ask myself, is there not more to life than this?
Now don´t get me wrong, I have a wonderful life. I have a job that I enjoy, I live in a nice flat, I earn enough money to cover my needs and a bit more. I live in the centre of a European capital with all the excitement and glitz and glam that go with it.
But having got to this point of ´adult life´, I can´t help but feel that something is important is missing…is this how life was really designed to be?
Doubting the system
It really feels deeply unacceptable to me that part of the parcel of eating food in modern society means ingesting chemicals into our bodies- be it from the ingredients in the food or the pesticides that coat it.
It also feels deeply unacceptable that even the very act of eating nowadays means taking part in the polluting of the oceans and the stuffing of the Earth with plastic and other non-biodegradable waste.
It also feels deeply demeaning to Life itself that our daily human interactions have become so automated, so hollow and unfulfilling.
Dinner time dreaming
Whilst chopping the veggies, my mind wanders…Could it be that there exists another way?
In this reverie my heart dreams of a different world…
What joy it would be to buy good, nourishing food in an atmosphere of community and solidarity where just the simple act of buying food was a social occasion… A celebration of the bounty of the Earth, the richness of conversation, the fullness of gratitude!
Where everything was fresh and local, people feel connected and nourished, by the food and by each other…
What is said in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen
And so, in the safety of the kitchen pots and pans and in the company of the vegetables, and I want to ask you a question, dear reader. We can just keep it between me and you for now, no need to go scaring people off with these ´strange´ ideas…
Do you think that a more beautiful world is possible?
Do you, like me, have a feeling deep down inside that there is a lot more to life than we have been led to believe?
Is there a quiet voice that insists that we are not meant to live so disconnected from the Earth, to buy vegetables wrapped in plastic, and reduce animals to a pink slab of flesh on yet another plastic tray?
Have you ever felt a deep urging that insists that we are here to serve more than just the economy, that our value and worth as human beings cannot be measured by how much money we make, and that our contribution to something far greater than what we can humanly fathom is not only important but vital for our very existence on this planet?
Do you ever feel in a deep primordial place within you the longing for something that you don´t even know to describe?
A missing piece long since discarded; an ancient memory imprinted on our heart. A homesickness, an ache, a disconnectedness from what feels natural, wholesome and human.
Could it be that something is seriously amiss in this human life of ours? Could it be that we have missed the point entirely about the nature of life and indeed our very existence?
In all our grasping for comfort and security, have you ever asked yourself the question:
Where are we going with all of this?
Is the point of life really only to be comfortable? To be financially secure? To be surrounded by material things?
Is this really what we are living for? To live and to die with no greater purpose than getting our next promotion, paying off our mortgage, and accumulating more material wealth?
Are we here on this planet just to enjoy those two precious days out of seven that happen to be called ´the weekend´?
Has the whole point of those billions of years of evolution only been so we can only really come alive during those two weeks a year when we can finally get out of the day to day tedium of ´real-life´, otherwise known as ´a summer holiday´?
For all our intelligence and technology, for all the material security, for all the offerings of science, I beg the question- is this it?
Is this all there is to being alive?
Maybe one could say, ´but this is real life, we work hard so we can enjoy nice things with our loved ones, so we can have nice experiences and have fun, eat good food, drink good wine, go to nice restaurants´.
I don´t discount that those things are true and that there is joy in getting together with friends and family and eating together- of course! This is part of the fundamental human experience, something that connects us to the ancients, to our roots.
It precisely these things that satisfy us, that fill us up on the inside, that make it seems that its all worthwhile, that there is a point to everything. They are moments where we are connected to our shared humanity.
But my question is, why do these moments feel so sparse in our everyday lives? These moments of deep contentedness to ourselves, and each other and dare I say it, the world.
Stress, stress and more stress
Why is it that there are so many people in the Western world suffering from mental health problems? Why are we as a people so full of stress and anxiety?
Could it be that the very system that we have created for our ultimate well being actually goes against it?
Could it be that the institutions that we support, even our culture, are not life-enhancing but life-degrading?
But what other option do we have, right?
We need a roof over our head, we need food on the table, we need to have a feeling of purpose, of progression. Those bills are not going to just magically disappear!
If we are not in the rat race, where are we? How do we live? How do we survive? What would life look like? How would we make sense of it?
All good questions to which, dear reader, I have no good answers right now. Sorry to disappoint you. After so much spiel, so much galvanising and emphatic question raising I have laid myself bare.
I am just like you, working 40 hours a week, living in a rented urban flat, trying my best to live up to my own ideals of eating organic, of reducing my plastic consumption, and eating homemade food, whilst at the same time trying to keep up with the housework, maintain a work-life balance, be a good friend and partner, keep up with my yoga and meditation practice and actually find some time to just read a good book.
And that´s without kids!
With so many facets of daily life needing to be tended to, it´s really quite easy to push these ideals of a more beautiful world to one side whilst I deal with these ´here and now´ things.
The day to day grind
We all know how it goes:
´Its all good to talk about healing the world and ourselves but I´ve got to cook for the week so I can eat good food whilst I´m working and have some time to relax in the evening.´
´It´s all good to talk about the unsustainability of our current economic system but Í´ve got rent to pay so I´ve got to get my arse to work!´.
´It´s all good to talk about organic produce but when I don´t have it within easy walking distance from my flat, you will have to forgive me for buying non-organic from the shop over the road so I can actually have dinner with my partner before 9 pm.´
These are some of the realities that characterise my day to day life. But yet, as much as these things have maybe distracted me from my yearning for a more beautiful world for a while, they haven´t drowned it out completely.
The intimate whisper deep down in my heart is still alive and is starting to raise its voice more loudly. It´s a voice that I can no longer ignore, and the more attention I give it, the stronger it gets. It´s got to the point to which I can no longer ignore its call, or put it off for later.
Maybe this is what it feels like to have a calling. The feeling that makes me feel the most alive, the most vibrant, the most effective, the thing that makes every cell in my bodies sing ´This is it! This is what you need to do with your life´.
In fact, it is now the only thing that I want in life, the only north star that I am willing to follow.
So following this siren call from deep within, I am heading out to discover this mysterious and magical world that Charles Eisenstien calls ´The more beautiful world our hearts know is possible´.
I don´t know exactly where I am going but I invite you to come with me, and together maybe we can co-create something beautiful.
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