|Albert Camus (November 7, 1913 – January 4, 1960) was a French existentialist philosopher, dramatist, novelist and critic|
In the Kitchen of the Absurd
Prepare the chicken.
Wash the rice.
Dice the onions.
Boil the water.
Heat the cauldron.
What to do?
What to sift?
What to mix?
This mundane repetitive process
of each passing day,
resonates and strikes a chord within.
Primal wisdom imbedded – awakened.
Simmering way past this transient skin.
My thoughts begin to expand,
beyond the four kitchen walls.
My soul hinting at a knowledge,
I try desperately to recall.
And so I begin to analyze my Sisyphean existence.
Leaving doubt and despair at a distance.
Are we not a summation of steps?
A gamut of genome —
An evolutionary phenom?
The culmination in a series of gradation?
The perfect dish of creation?
From seed to growth anew.
From womb to birth.
From precious life to common dirt.
And in my kitchen,
refuge of my alchemy.
I am climbing the steps of eternity.
For when I massage pepper unto meat,
does it not remind me of my own flesh — my mortality?
When I smell the rice bubbling on my stove,
Does it not remind me of my own power and fertility?
And when I partake of this meal
Does not this single rice contain the process of life and death?
Of beginnings and endings — of rebirth?
And when I take it in,
Have I not become one with life’s eternal wheel?
Except I can’t help but wonder ….
Does not each dish also conceal and reveal …
humanity’s bittersweet fate and ordeal?
Yet when I savored this food in my mouth,
allowed its aroma to fill my lungs,
and rolled it around my tongue.
Allowed the flavors to explode.
Allowed this sweet moment to flow,
until contentment washed all over me,
then that was the time I did finally
understand and see,
a lifetime’s knowledge —
gleanings from eternity.
The answer is quite simple really,
for us to have purpose and start living,
we must create our own meanings.
by Charlotte Aninion-De Guzman
My inspiration for writing this poem came while I was thinking about Albert Camus while cooking.
I was putting the ingredients in when it occurred to me that the act of making a dish, preparing the ingredients and mixing them all in can be compared to the way we shape our lives. At the same time, I also realized that a dish can be the most delectable dish in the world, but it would be completely useless until the person eating it learns to savor and enjoy it --- which is also like the way we should value our lives. We could be the richest man in the world, but everything would still be meaningless if we don't appreciate what we have. At the end of the day, we just need to learn to cook up our own happiness and our own meanings.