J: Good day, Mate! How are you today?
D: Good! And you?
J: I’m alright! Good to have a cup of coffee on a Chooseday morning, ain’t it?
D: Yeah; good to have a cup of coffee over a conversation like this. Been looking forward to meeting you this week. Work has been monotonous; I have got to break the pattern, you know.
J: Well, tell me about it. I needed to interrupt the pattern myself. Work has not been intellectually stimulating lately, so.. Good to catch up with you. So what have you been up to this week?
D: I came across this French painter Paul Gaugin.
J: Into painting these days, yeah?
D: Well, not really. I’m not that of an art connoisseur, but one of his works got me thinking.
J: I’m listening.
D: Excuse my French, but the painting is entitled: “D’vou venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Ou allons-nous?”
J: Excuse my French, too, but although France is just a sea across where I grew up, I was never good at languages myself.
D: Neither am I, but the translation of the title is sobering. It means: “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?”
J: Now that sounds profound.
D: Profound, indeed!
J: You know, I have worked my face off for years, that I forgot to stop and smell the flowers. It’s good to get reminded of these things. That’s why I always look forward to seeing you every Tuesday morning here at the coffeeshop.
D: Tell me about it. My job is thinking-based, but at the end of the day, I get so exhausted that I would just tune out and sleep. After stumbling upon this title to the painting, I ask myself, “is this what life really is all about, you know, work, sleep, eat, etc.”
J: If you come to think about it, in the grand scheme of things, our generation is just a small speck of history.
D: I know, right? We get so lost in our day to day concerns that we lose sight of the bigger picture; like, what is the world going to look like in a hundred years from now? Thus this title by Paul Gaugin encapsulates the spectrum of human existence. From birth to death individually, to the collective passing of the generations. Life seems to remain a great mystery.
J: It is a mystery. Do you know how I would put it? It’s like seeing only one minute of a 2 hour movie. You know we appreciate a movie if we watch it from start to finish? But if we only see one segment of it, it’s not that satisfying. We may ask some questions like: so who is this character? Who’s the antagonist here? What’s the story all about? Whose dog is that? But if you watch the whole story, then you can appreciate all the characters, the plot, the twists, the ending, etc.
D: That’s such a good analogy, Mate! So are you saying that our lives, even if we live up to 80 years old, is like only watching a few seconds of the movie, right?
D: And life becomes a mystery, because we don’t know what happened before we came into existence, what happened to our ancestors, and the people before them, and the generations before that, all the way from the beginning. Neither do we know what the ending story is of our life. Brilliant! I mean, brilliant illustration. But still I’m left with some questions like Gaugin himself asked: Where do we really come from, who are we, what’s gonna happen in the future.
J: Well, I guess it’s good to ponder over these things for the next coming days, and see how you have mused over this thought.
D: For sure. It was nice having a chat with you today, as usual.
J: As usual, the feeling is mutual.