An Encounter to Remember
Alain de Botton and I first met when I was 19 years old, between the covers of his first book, Essays in Love. Back in those days, we were both preoccupied with love. Between us, we would desperately try to define it, conjure it and acquire it. We would spend most of our time thinking about love, the only difference being he would write about it and I would read about it.
As time passed, we both grew up but we never grew apart. It seems that our mutual interests merely evolved with time. We continued to analyse the nuts and bolts of the body, mind and spirit of life, ranging from how Proust can change one’s life to the art of travel. As he continued to write, I would continue to read, nibbling on madeleines and sipping tea while dreaming of far off places.
Eventually our writer-reader relationship got buried by the sands of time until last Sunday. Imagine my surprise when we met up again, this time on ted.com, both in search of the missing pieces in secular life.
In search of Morality, Guidance and Consolation
I’m of course talking about what Alain refers to as Atheism 2.0, a flavour of atheism that takes the bits and pieces of religion (such as singing Christmas carols and visiting churches) that we enjoy to make our existence more complete, from daring to ask questions about life’s bigger mysteries (life’s purpose, death and disappointment) to creating connections (building communities and developing an attitude of service towards others).
I urge you to listen Alain’s Ted talk here. It really made me think.
Making Vital Things Matter More
As you stand by the water cooler today, looking out the window, ask yourself these three vital questions: Why am I here? How can I make things better? How can I make what we do together matter more?
And if you’re feeling courageous or simply playful, try asking these questions out loud and see where the conversation takes you, for it is in the search for answers that we find responses through our questionings.
And who knows? You may discover a pot of goodies at the end of the rainbow or tumble down a rabbit hole and have a tea party!