We have all probably said the word ‘life’ like a thousand times before. Some of us may have delved deeper to unravel the mysteries of life. For example, ‘What is life?’, ‘What is the meaning of our existence?’, ‘What is the right way to live it?’ and many such larger questions. Well, this article is not an attempt to answer these questions but to offer a reflection that can aid in strengthening our grip on the various hidden meanings of life. Life is like a buffet of various dishes. Some of these dishes we try and some of them become our favorite. But if we zoom out and see from above, each one of our lives is a dish in itself. How? Let’s unfold this.

We, as humans, have always applauded individuality with a closed sense of belonging. In playschool, we are first introduced to the concept of sharing food and things, and this instills the feelings of belonging with our classmates, which we then carry forward at home. On the other hand, we are introduced to cutthroat competition in the later years of our schooling. Soon we realize this complicated ingredient of life. We begin our learning from the day we began to notice things. We see our guardian establishing us a platform to learn and grow. As a toddler, we are taught lessons that are socially and morally acceptable with the hope that they will serve as fuel for the long journey of life. These lessons are the most important component ingredient to the recipe of life. This is where the taste of the dish is decided for the next few years. It would be incorrect to assert that the flavors get fixed here. No, the flavors change and so does the recipe.

We observe and learn more as we grow older, as children and adolescents. To some extent, we become acquainted with unacceptable morals and ethics of life. And here, begins the conflict. Some of what we were taught begins to appear as forced standards levied on us. We begin to address this as conditioning, recognizing that it is incapable of answering complex questions. Some of us have all struggled with this tussle of right and wrong in an unexplored world. Well, this is the most complex spice of life. The various flavors sprout from here, some of which last longer and some create a gentle aroma with subtlety. Like when we add clove to a dish, it leaves a lasting flavor and fragrance whereas a curry leave creates the aroma which evokes a sense of momentariness. We meet new people, make new friends and build our own experiences. In all these instances, some people do leave a lasting imprint on our life. Even we become an ingredient to the recipe of another’s life.

Not only do the ingredients matter, but so do the temperature and the amount of time it takes to prepare a dish. The dishes vary in the same way that the timeline and components of each of our lives do. We must allow time and a conducive environment for the ingredients to cook, attain texture, and retain their properties, just as we must build ourselves with patience and in a nurturing environment in life.

We do, as you may recall, add preservatives to some foods. Just as not all food items require this, we do not all require this in life. Whoever created the recipe for life did so precisely in a way that replicated other mundane aspects of life. For some, the function of preservative is performed by their parents, family, friends, or even their profession. And we all know some just don’t have any preservatives that can help increase their shelf life. On the surface, comparing a human’s life to the shelf life of an inanimate object appears inhumane, but it cannot be ignored symbolically. We all are here for a reason, and some key ingredients in our life’s recipe help us get by.

Some people get into the habit of saying “Life is a mess”. They could be indicative of something that is unfavorable to their buffet of life forgetting that life is fleeting. A combination of moments forms the trajectory of life. Good, bad, anger, guilt, etc. are all the various side dishes of our buffet. You have to try them all to fully appreciate life’s pleasures. Keeping yourself free of the sour and bitter experiences is akin to enclosing yourself in a box of comfort with a finite zone of growth. Bitterness and sweetness, despite being diametrically opposed, decide each other’s value.

Finally, life is a never-ending buffet of dishes. Every day and every experience counts as a dish. We can’t get away but we can change some dishes and even choose some of them. Every day and every moment, the world is a cauldron cooking up dishes and serving us with enriching dishes. 

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