Chef Jason Roberts

The Lost Art of Living

Chef Jason

G’Day Fellow Earthlings,

The more I sit, watch, listen and absorb this hectic world we live in, the more I see we are losing our connection to what really matters, focusing on "things" instead of what’s truly important. There was once a time when your best friend was a dog, short shorts were cool (still cool by the way) and there were only two potato varieties: dirty and washed. No one had allergies, you didn’t know anyone who had passed from cancer and no child ever went hungry. Granted, things have to change, but you have to wonder: is ‘progress’ really progress, or are we moving forward at a such a rapid pace that the art to live has become a blur, just for the sake of moving forward?

Just for a moment... stop, think and really connect with the world we now live in. Have we created too many choices? Are we suffocating our freedom and our biological right to live purely out of fear of not making the right choice? Or having the right stuff? Are we doing the things that make us happy or are we pursuing the things that media say will make us happy? Have we fallen into the trap of watching life, via reality shows that are anything but, instead of actually living life?

What happened to writing letters and filling photo albums with family moments for those random times of reconnecting with nostalgia and embarrassing moments of old hairdos and outfits? What do we achieve by living in a world of filtered images and emotionless text messages?

I grew up on a farm where milking cows, feeding chickens, butchering live stock, fishing and gardening were just an every day part of life. It’s all I knew. I assumed this is how everyone was meant to live. It was encouraged, actually insisted upon, that we kids had to participate and pitch in chopping fire wood, feeding the chickens, weeding the gardens, lawn mowing, and washing dishes. These were part of our daily chores. Of course I hated doing chores like every other kid, but now as an adult I recognize the lessons I learned, the responsibility I was taught and the importance of engaging with the family. I realized the chores I was given were not a punishment (though I thought so at the time), but the handing down of basic life skills. Being taught to fish so to speak.

“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Well, this very saying is what drives me to want to cook, learn, mentor and teach the very skills I have developed and was taught, handing them down to the next generation of cooks and chefs. These are hands-on life skills that require nurturing and patience. You will never taste the sixth sense in a pre-packaged meal. This will only ever come from the love and desire to cook and share. These are the very meals that will transcend time to your grandparent’s cooking, or childhood memories of family meals. Good or bad, they are personalized moments not to be forgotten, but stored in your mind for those all-important, uplifting, warming and very nostalgic moments.

It saddens me as we seem to have gradually disconnected from reality. Today’s society seems to be losing its way, forgetting the importance of tuning in to our surroundings. Our world has become so mobile, we are on call and held hostage to our phones and our computers 24 hours a day. We feel the need to connect via social media, watching videos and looking at pictures of life instead of actually living those experiences for ourselves. Each day we need to post an image, tweet a message or watch other people experiencing life, instead of actually participating in it. Everyday we judge our self-worth based on likes and retweets. This is not living, nor is it freedom. This is falling victim to a system that is letting us down. This is losing the art of living.

Technology in the form of smart phones, tablets and personal computers have become the babysitter and the new age pacifier for both children and adults. At the table, they keep the children quiet. These devices keep married couples from having to speak or engage and in turn, they have actually created a disconnection as we rarely give our undivided attention to those we are with. The dining table was once a place to nourish your body and mind, ask questions, hear answers, share your day, pass knowledge and wisdom, but more importantly engage and connect.

My biggest concern is that we are forgetting to share and vent what is important, built up emotion and anxiety will never be outed and certainly not heard through a filtered life or image. I believe that we are burying ourselves into a depressive state of mind. It’s time to invest in our friends and family. If you're feeling something say it, don’t post it! Chances are it’s a human voice you need to hear, not just a like or tweet. A like will never show you warmth or unconditional love. It will never give you direction or pick you up when you are down! It will never feed you when hungry and will certainly not share a smile and a hug. Likes won’t remind you of nostalgic moments nor will it ask you; "Are you OK?" Invest in people not things. It’s time to water your own grass and get on with living instead of posting.

Though I realize the irony of posting this blog on Twitter and Facebook, I felt that I needed to encourage you all to actually put down the phone and reclaim your life and family traditions. Look up at those next to you and connect. Really connect. Get in the kitchen and cook with your kids. Sit at the dinner table and have a face-to-face conversation. It’s time to live life, instead of watching it via social media. Go outside and play, don’t lose the real art to live! You’ll be glad you re-engaged.