Meraki - Soulful Creation
“meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective)
This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be. Meraki is often used to describe cooking or preparing a meal, but it can also mean arranging a room, choosing decorations, or setting an elegant table.”
A very loose translation in English could be that of Craftsmanship but again this word doesn’t quite describe the soulful element of the Greek word ‘meraki’. One needs to put an important piece of oneself into what one is creating, making or doing. There must be love, care and affection. Tenderness, attention focus and intent.
Meraki by definition is more akin to handmade things than mass production. It insinuates the action of creation of one person or a small group of people constituting a dedicated team working together for a common cause, all taking great pride in the quality of their work and final product.
‘Meraki’ has certain prerequisites and the most important one is the value of quality over quantity and consequently the importance of quality over monetary profit. As such it rarely coincides with mass manufacturing and the mainstream business values. An exception may be companies who value their reputation highly and keep it their top priority together with the full satisfaction of their clients by producing a high quality product or service.
‘Meraki’ comes to mind when watching a dedicated craftsman/woman painstakingly working on their work of art even if that is just a wooden spoon. It’s reflected in the passionate teacher tirelessly inspiring their students, the doctor who won’t give up on their patient until they find out what’s wrong with them, the dancer who perfects their moves for hours on end.
Paradoxically ‘meraki’ is not always involved in art per se, even though it is an art in itself in a certain sense. The reason being that you don’t need ‘meraki’ to paint a beautiful painting. Since ‘meraki’ also insinuates some sort of expertise it comes along with endless practice and repetition, skillfulness, dedication and the pride to create something of exceptional quality or beauty.
Meraki doesn’t necessarily come with spontaneity and randomness that so often characterize works of art, especially in painting. As such it is more akin to figurative rather than abstract art, classical than modern, traditional than futuristic.
It may have a meditative component, an element of transcendence in its highest form. After a while the product created, the outcome, looses its importance in favor of the process itself which is the ultimate goal and acquires an almost spiritual dimension.
Meraki is a philosophy, a way of doing things, a way of life. It comes with a certain mindset and personality and can only thrive in social environments with specific values. It needs a slow or specific rhythm, attention to detail, whole hearted focus and endless dedication. As such it can not coexist with the fast food industry, the mass production manufacturing, the quick profit economy schemes, the obsession with quantity, mindless consumerism and greed.
It can only survive where quality is sought and desired, where there are no time restrictions, quotas, and profit margins. It takes a special individual to create something with meraki and a special kind of consumer to want to buy their product or service. It takes people who know how to appreciate what they see and who value the process of creation itself. People who are willing to give the time and money for something that matters to them. Something which speaks to their soul, which satisfies not only their senses but their code of ethics, what they believe in.
Meraki is something few people in our modern western societies can understand, appreciate or value. For the Walmart and fast food generations and public, meraki stands no chance. For the families who can’t make ends meet and need to feed and dress their children, meraki is a luxury they think they can’t afford. Obsessed with quantity, unwilling to do with less but better made, anything of quality and high craftsmanship is considered unreachable, incomprehensible or plain stupid.
In today’s hectic times we want everything right here and right now and are not prepared to wait, to postpone gratification, to save for a year in order to buy one thing that is well made that we love instead of ten that will not last a month each. We don’t want to eat less food but of better nutritional quality. We gobble down our food instead of chewing and savoring it. We opt for quickies instead of soulful love making. We have lost the quality of our lives in an endless rat race. For what?
Obviously for whatever increases our stress, sinks us into depression, increases our alienation, loneliness selfishness and superficiality. We end up living empty lives of fleeting satisfactions, meaningless existence, abundant boredom, discontent and unhappiness. Caught up in this insane roller coaster we drive ourselves faster and faster into a shocking dead end and we crash. The greater the level of unawareness the greatest the crash.
Why not take the time to stop and reflect. Smell the roses, look around and into each other’s eyes, touch each other’s souls and bodies with love and intent. Grow and cook our food with ‘meraki’. Make love with our soul wide open. Create with focus, dedication and care. Consume mindfully, responsibly, ethically. Why not give ‘meraki’ a chance?
There’s a catch though. A catch that makes it hard for many of us to get on the meraki wagon. That catch is that one needs to establish a healthy and deep connection to one’s soul. Feel comfortable in silence. Be able to withstand the level of intimacy, attention or care. Just be, fully there, in absolute consciousness, in full bloom love.