The source of meaning

This picture of Everest, with more than 100 climbers in a single frame, shows us the crowded path to the highest point in the world. Most of those climbers make that journey at great risk and personal expense to tell themselves the story of accomplishing this romantic feat – to tell everybody that they once stood on the world’s highest point.

Of course, the objective is not merely getting to the highest point. Even if we could charter helicopters to simply land on the peak, click a selfie and return, nobody would do it, for that would be meaningless. The act of scaling a mountain is incomplete without the difficulty and the hardship that the climb entails.

Similarly, a religion without ritual, penance and sacrifice is devoid of meaning. A soldier’s profession is without meaning if she did not have to stare death in the eye and endure hardships on the battle front. The very act of cooking a meal with one’s own hands – of buying ingredients, of peeling and chopping vegetables and stirring the pot so that the dish achieves the preferred consistency, makes it taste better than ordering in from a restaurant.

Convenience has brought great value to our lives. Going back to living off the land is no longer an option for most of us. But when taken too far – when we have all our meals delivered to us as we binge watch Netflix – convenience robs more from life than it gives.

When everything comes easily, life is devoid of meaning – Aldous Huxley.

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