50 Toughest Questions of Life invites people to have a conversation about themselves with themselves. Deepak Ramola’s quest began after he was inspired by the life lesson of a young girl who said, ‘Life is not about giving easy answers, but answering tough questions.’ Over the years, Ramola has amassed life lessons from inspirational sources across the world: from the women of the Maasai tribe to young girls in Afghanistan and sex workers in Kamathipura; from the lessons of earthquake survivors in Nepal to Syrian refugees in Europe, among many more. The book is a collection of fifty such questions that made him pause, along with a bouquet of answers, anecdotes, stories and notes from his journey of teaching human wisdom for a decade.
From these strikingly fresh, tender yet searing questions, we are bringing you one that made us pause and reflect on our lives and how we could lead it more meaningfully.
If you could design a menu for your life, what all would it include?
Every time I ask someone this question, two things happen: First, a smile breaks out on their face, and second, they ask me to break it down further and explain.
It’s quite simple, though: If you could curate a metaphoric menu for your life, what all would you include? What would brighten your breakfast, what would you have for lunch, what would dinner be, and, finally, what would dessert comprise of? You guessed right—I am not talking about food here.
I ask this question as an exercise to look for what is most important to you. What truly matters and what can you have more of?
Meaningful conversations, poetry, time with my kind of humans, writing or being in the back seat of a car, listening to a favourite music playlist—all these things soothe my soul. Therefore, the menu of my life would include some soulful personal time at the start of the day, lunch would comprise conversations with people I love, dinner would be peppered with poetry recitals, and dessert would sweeten the deal with a long solitary walk or a quick drive on empty roads with a loved one.
Swimming in the morning, sunbathing, drinking a cup of tea with my grandfather, reading a nice book, meditating, taking short naps, long walks, cooking for the family, daydreaming, playing a game of cards, writing letters, receiving handwritten letters, chatting with my partner, wine tasting, hanging out with friends, watching a gripping movie on the Internet—these are the responses I get from people when I ask them what is on their life’s menu.
Only when you filter the best in your life, take note of its worthiness, can you truly encourage yourself to let go of what doesn’t serve you anymore, or as Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying expert, says ‘doesn’t spark joy in you’. The question of deciding your menu is an act of gratitude for what exists, and it helps you realize that certain nights should be full of more than the usual. Some days leave you only when you hum your favourite songs as a lullaby or let an old tune fill up the silence. Or you reflect back to the glory of old memories with close ones in full force. A conventional curation runs the risk of making a new ‘hello’ taste drab in the mouth of adventure, while ‘goodbyes’ will undermine the potential of all that you should hold on to. So think aloud and wild.
You know, if I could sit down with you in a café that has white wooden chairs, green walls and small plants cupped in recycled glass bottles, I would tell you that the universe is ready to deliver. It’s you who hasn’t placed the order as yet. And to do so, you often have to ask for a menu or create your own. Weigh your options, see through your choices. You are worthy of being coddled. So sit back in a sunlit patch of your room. Unbutton your happiness. Create your menu. This time!
Your heart, my love, is hungry.