I recently read a Chinese Proverb that said: A conversation with a wise person is worth ten years’ study of books. Coincidentally, I’ve also recently had insight into the life of Ancient Greek mythologist, Epicurus. In a similar vein, Epicurus thought that one of the key elements to happiness was to be in great company and engage in stimulating conversation over meals. The type of company he was referring to were those thoughtful friendships; the ones where both parties are overly generous in sharing their ideas and being a good listener. It brings me back to reflect on my own life and the life in which I choose to have through my travels. The truly memorable encounters and friendships have been those where great conversations have been shared, more often than not, over a meal.
A particularly special ‘Epicurean’ moment transpired when I was in Rome a couple of years back. Enticed by a harp in the window, my wandering led me to enter a store that turned out to be a violin workshop. It was here that I met the finest violin makers in Italy, and amongst them was Rodolfo. This chance encounter with Rodolfo lead me to lunch where I learnt about the history of the violin and the craftsmanship involved in making this instrument, Italian politics and the Renaissance era. Lunch, in turn, lead to dinner where I was introduced to a group of Swedish contemporary dancers. After dinner, we looked out over the city of Rome from the Swiss Institute and I was taken to local bars in the back streets and quiet suburbs of Rome. It was one of those truly memorable and enlightening experiences.
Not all my encounters have been so movie-esque. What I do know though, is that I have a choice over who I share my meals with and an influence over the conversations in which I engage.
Harking back to my thoughts on creating beautiful moments every day, I think we can get stuck and too comfortable over what should really be special celebrated moments in our days. Let’s be real, how often do our conversations revolve around the mundane and superficial; the obligatory “how was your day?” question. And how many of those conversations turn into a selfish hate list of everything that went wrong that day? Tiresome.
These Epicurean ideals of coming together over a great meal are popping up all over the place. Open Table is an exciting initiative in Melbourne that is not only addressing issues of food wastage and sustainability but is bringing communities together over a meal. So, if you can open yourself up and muster up the courage to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger in your home town, I strongly encourage it as you never know where this could lead you.
Let’s welcome quality conversations when we share a meal with one another. Let’s try.
Image shot by Elizabeth Messina from Kiss the Groom