Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Meaning of Living

Socrates knew what life is about. He had it all figured out. It wasn't through some divine form of all knowingness - he constantly examined and evaluated not only his own life, but also the lives of those around him. To the point where he was persecuted for it because his thoughts didn't follow the ideology of main stream society or the agenda of the powers that be.

"Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live."

That's one of the truths he discovered. I had to read it several times to truly comprehend it. Contrary to its meaning, for me this quote evokes a streaming flood of happy memories.

The first one is of Chris and I sitting around our oversized, square shaped, dark wood dinner table, an overflow of friends in tow; eating; raucous laughter; sharing stories; clinking our wine glasses in celebration; joyously spilling red wine on the white tablecloth; passing the share plate of food around; debating; listening; relaxing.

It reminds me of Easter in my grandparents' courtyard in the south of Greece. It was spring, the sun was out with the chilly mountain air ever present. My father and grandfather suspended in their silent exchange of skinning a lamb and cooking it over searing coals on a spit. After all, the tricks of the trade were passed on from father to son. There was no argument, just certainty and one way to cook the lamb; the right way. Manually turning the spit they passed the hours until the lamb cooked. Basting it, being attentive to it; drinking wine; blaring their favourite folk tunes on the stereo. My father spontaneously breaking out into song and dance when the mood struck; my grandfather sitting with his hands together in his lap, starring off into the distance as he often did when he was relaxed and contemplating life. We'd be sneaking shards of meat off the carcass (the spit master, my father administering it); and finally enjoying it all together.

The loud beeping of the self administering morphine machine (the syringe is nearing empty) pulls me out of my reverie and reminds me of the reality that surrounds me: mortality.

Those memories are thousands of miles away and some 22 years ago from the harshness of the fluorescent hospital lights I'm sitting under.

My 69 year old mama bear had a knee reconstruction yesterday. Like a good Greek daughter, I've come to Adelaide to keep her company and look after her.

The cycle and reality of life surrounds me, it surrounds everyone and it's inescapable. It reveals itself from behind the thick dark velvet curtain of life, sometimes, when we least expect it.

The dry, rough, bland hospital food is a far cry from the Greek feasts my family puts on. The layers of fish hard, flaky and folded over themselves, fused together. The potatoes floury and undercooked. Homogenous with no taste and the same dry texture dominating the whole plate.

I don't agree with Socrates. Although from a health point of view he's right - food for survival; from a living your life point of view, living my life anyway, he's dead wrong. Life should not be boiled down to mere survival.

It's those vivid, vibrant, full of animation, food sharing memories that give me meaning. It's what food and drink represent. Food as a metaphor for life is about enjoyment, living the moment, celebrating, family, friends and the connection we have to each other, our past and our present.

Socrates evidently needed more enjoyment in his life. Poor bastard.

1 comment:

  1. Socrates probably needed to get laid hahahaha
    On another note try and enjoy adelaide, wish i was there with you.
    Love to Mamma bear, i hope she has a speedy recovery