This book was reviewed for the Manhattan Book Review
Asif Zaidi’s The Stuff of Life is a veritable treasure trove of essays bridging a wide variety of philosophical topics. There are several sections, each with a general focus. This book is stuffed with the type of philosophical questions that I, as a philosopher myself, particularly enjoy, even where the spiritual dipped into the religious. Many of the essays reminded me of my own meanderings, while others had me stopping to marinate in a new way of thinking about something.
The very first essay, What is a Life Well Lived, really spoke to me. I often get in a brown study, musing over if my own life actually matters. In truth, everyone’s does. For better or worse, we cast ripples that go far wider and longer than ever we could know. This essay reminds us that our legacies long outpace us, and not just in the immediately physical sense of children, and that it is for each person to discover for themselves the meaning of a life well lived. It won’t mean the same to everyone.
Several essays, including one entitled On Forgiveness, deal with just that most difficult of topics. Forgiveness comes easy to some, and never to others. It’s a matter of how you choose to think, and to interact with life. It’s a topic dear to me, as I learned just how different I am from the majority of my family when my cousin was murdered. While the rest of them clamoured for the death penalty, I advocated against it. One mother’s heart had been broken over this. Another didn’t need to be.
Oh, but this author’s, nay, this philosopher’s words ring within me. This is a person sharing a similar mind-frame, and with whom I would love to sit and discuss things long into the shadowed night. The myriad topics tie in science, psychology, spirituality, and religion, along with the notion that all we really have are perceptions. Everyone sees the world through different lens, crafted in different ways.
There are so many other great essays, to discuss them all would be an essay itself! If you enjoy being challenged in your thinking, and musing over the deeper things in life, you are sure to enjoy this book. The writing itself is beautiful, though another grammar and spellcheck would not be amiss. That’s the only thing holding back a fifth star.