A meal with a soul for my great grandchildren
The values that I have are pretty old fashioned by the standards of when you read this in the future. Because of a disrupted early childhood they came to me later in life than they did to most people – perhaps all the more trenchantly for that, who knows? They are common sense values, owing much to a Christain upbringing but more to the wide range of friends and contacts I have made in my life. The further I have travelled, the greater has been my admiration for the variety of people we have on the planet. That has taught me to rejoice in difference. They call it diversity now. I prefer the word difference. It seems more straightforward.
The people I meet are my God. All good, but they sometimes do terrible things. I no longer see a need for any other God. How will that affect you, my great grandchildren, if at all? I think it will make an impression on you as you grow up and read some of the scribblings I have composed. You won’t necessarily accept my values, of course, but I hope you will think through what are your own values. If I encourage you a tiny bit in that I shall be happy. Always assuming that happiness is a possibility for the disembodied soul I shall then be.
That people are my God in no way diminishes my faith in each of us having a soul. Indeed, I wish that we could disentangle our souls from the believed existence of God as taught by most religions. In my lifetime I have come across thousands of people who have been held back from developing their souls by the strictures of an assumed Almighty who somehow didn’t let them. The soul is that part of a person that cannot be monitored by a doctor, that can lie dormant for years and then suddenly spring to life, that can be left until last but should always be put first. It is character, but greater. It is personality, but more. It is the ability to see that sunset is a promise of tomorrow.
We all believe in a soul, actually. How often do we refer to someone, maybe after they have died but often while they are still alive, as ‘a good soul? What we don’t know is whether that soul, or some aspect of it, is immortal. I think that what we leave behind is the immortal bit; the rest may just disappear. And why not. After a good meal you scrape off the plates, wash them and use them again for the next meal. Life is a sort of meal. It continues to nourish, its basic utensils are reusable. The life itself is over when it is done. As a completer of things I rather like that.
But the process of cooking the meal, stirring and heating the soul is what life is about. Add some spice, experiment a little, make a beautiful meal. We make meals for others, of course. We enjoy them too, but our enjoyment is largely due to our satisfaction of seeing others relishing the repast. So, if you want to press the analogy a bit further, think of it like this. The first twenty-five years of life are gathering the ingredients. You may have to look far and wide for them. They may be simple or exotic. Gather as many as you can in these precious years of experiment.
From twenty-five onwards, start to prepare the meal. You have lots of time. Your aim is to have your meal prepared by the time you are forty-seven. (You can read The Seminal Sevens on why I think this is a critical age in your life – or, at least, was a critical age in my time. Things change, I know.) From forty-seven onwards you will be enjoying this wonderful meal you have prepared – not, I hope, alone but with those whose presence adds to the enjoyment and stimulates you to learn even more. Possibly to prepare yet more meals.
You may wonder what a meal has to do with your soul? The answer is ‘everything’. Food is not just an essential for life, it is a vital part of life itself. Not just the eating and drinking but the gathering, the preparation, the cooking, the enjoying. So much so that the similarities between food and the soul are valid lessons in the way we may live. If your soul is as well prepared as your dinner it will be a beautiful experience, for you and for others.
Take care in the preparation of the meal of your soul. Ingredients, timing, temperature, all need loving handling. They are the precious things from which you create yourself. They are your character. Take care how you cook them. That is your personality forming, reforming and changing all through your life. Consume the meal of your soul with reverence. Many people have contributed to it and you, too, have put in much effort. Taste slowly and with humility.
You have created your soul.
Bless you all.