The Meaning of Life In a Cup of Coffee

words & photo by Brian Thompson.

We savour a sunset because we know it won’t last long.

We enjoy every moment of a vacation as much as we possibly can because we know it will soon end. We close our eyes and luxuriate in the final tastes of our favourite dessert, we let its sweetness dance on our tongue for as long as we can as we take one last bite.

We savour moments like these so sublimely because they matter to us, because they give our life meaning, because they bring us joy, and because we know our time experiencing them will be so short.

There’s a quote from The Stranger by Albert Camus that says, “Should I kill myself or get a cup of coffee?"

Once the initial shock of this startling quote fades, the truth that it points to becomes abundantly clear — no matter how much existential hurt you may be in, taking a moment to enjoy life's simple pleasures will always trump the pain. Everything in life is either wonderfully meaningful or absurdly meaningless — it’s up to us to decide. Anything can be a rewarding experience, if we allow ourself to appreciate it in such a way.

So, will we allow ourselves to be convinced that each moment is mundane, or that each one is precious and extraordinary?

When we study happiness we see clearly that it’s the little things that matter the most. But we fail to realize that in this infinite universe of ours, everything is a little thing! Therefore every moment can be just as precious as the one you spend sipping a delicious coffee or enjoying the setting sun.

We should endeavour to bring this same deeply-rooted respect into all of our relationships — not just with people, but with all of the places, things and experiences we have, and even more importantly — with time itself. We need to express our reverential awe not only for sunsets and flowers, but for every moment we have, for each new day, and for each new breath.

Life is so much more fulfilling when each experience is truly savoured — in the very moment we are having them — rather than only realizing their beauty in retrospect. Every moment and every experience is precious and rare, even the ugly ones. We need to savour the feeling of our very awareness itself, of each new sensation that we’re able to perceive, and of the very experience of our consciousness as it unfolds within this body we have.

We need to savour each and every moment we can.

All of the things we love, own and hold dear are just as impermanent as the setting sun.

Nothing lasts long. Everything passes. All things fade and disappear — including all of the pain, struggle, unease, sadness and suffering we feel. They too are temporary. They too will pass. And for that, we should be grateful.

Sure, we may talk about being grateful, but do we imbibe it into our very being? Do we imbue its essence into every moment we have, not just the seemingly already-perfect ones? We need to make this our daily practice.

We should endeavour to be grateful for every moment we experience, and to savour all of the precious things they contain, rather than only appreciating them after they’ve gone and all we’re left with is grief and regret.

When we appreciate what we have when we have it, we feel gracious and blessed. And this is what it means to find joy in being alive.