What life would you choose if you knew you could?
A number of people have said to me lately something along the lines ‘good on you for living the dream’. From my makeshift desk at a maktak covered table, seated on a most uncomfortable folding chair, I can indeed look out the sliding glass doors that comprise the full wall of this room and see the Aegean Sea. Ferries criss-cross all day long, sailboats skim the surface and speed boats cut white arcs across the blue waters. I am mesmerized by the ever changing yet ever constant view that colour shifts from moment to moment, literally on a breeze. The air is filled with the song of thousands of cicadas, the pomegranates are getting larger and ripening and we had to cut back the overgrown fig tree yesterday to free the lemon tree to the sun and breezes.
Today we have snacked on fresh peaches, banana and tahini with honey and now Athan has just put a plate of rich red watermelon triangles on the table for us to share while we both write. There is room, still, for a vase with a tall sprig of the scented white Jasmine we trimmed yesterday and a mini green wine bottle from the beach bar that holds a tiny branch of Mastika clustered with red berries. It is a protected ancient plant and grows abundantly sharing space with the wonderful feathery pines that surround us in a cool green privacy.
In the evening after six or so when our work day is done and the sun is at a more skin friendly angle, we will walk down through our little village at the port of Souvala, through the taverna terrace where Pandeles grills fish fresh from the sea that day, and up the whitewashed steps and over the hill to the sloped descent to the wee crescent beach. There are chaises and umbrellas and lots of children of all ages infants to grandparents, playfully splashing in the crystal clear waves. The air is the temperature of our skin and the sea a degree or two cooler. The salt carries me in an easy float as I ride the waves and sometimes get a mouthful from a cresting deluge.
Nothing comes without exchange
This is certainly no dream. It is a reality that we have chosen and worked toward. But not for the reasons you might think. And it has been at no insignificant cost – not financially for life here is significantly less costly than in North America – but in what was forsaken to be here now. Nothing comes without exchange and that is an exchange that you can only make with yourself. I kid with people that all I had to do is give up everything. Everything, that is, except what I truly desired. And knowing what you truly desire and are willing to give up ‘everything’ for is a process that takes you more closely home, but one that once embarked upon will never end until you cross over to the final home destination, hopefully with the epitaph “I am done”.
It’s a sorting process of who you are. At essence. It is finding who and what adds to your whole being compared to what you have identified with instead of your whole being. At a time, I wondered if this was merely a time of life process. Prepping for the final samadhi of the wandering mystic. Learning to live with less and less and then one day poof – dust! But on reflection, while we live our chosen roles and fulfill commitments, become educated, raise children, and feel we are chained to our past decisions, I believe we often exchange our essential selves for a version that is more the dream than any true reality – in terms of your soul.
And what makes us choose to serve the soul rather than the persona – in which we usually have so much invested? For me it was the lifelong question of why we just visit the places that give us solace, feed our spirits, rest our minds and sustain our wellbeing. Fortunately I had a husband who agreed and we found a home at first on a farm and later, still in the country a gathering place for our growing sons. At various times we had horses, cattle, chickens and our children grew up making forts in the snow or in the spring woods or in our living room. The best words we could hear from our sons were, “I’m bored.” because not long after that would be the first stirrings of imagination. Now, in their twenties they are thriving accomplished musicians. Have you heard of them? Maybe not yet, maybe not ever, but they are nonetheless thriving accomplished musicians and they continue in their craft and self evolution every questing day of their lives.
My most valued accomplishment in this life is not that I gave birth but that I had the presence of spirit to, somehow in a most haphazard way, hold the space for my sons to give birth to themselves. Independence and creativity are in their DNA from both their dad and me, but many do not use their gifts. I think actually I was shocked into a better parent by the death of their dad. I was not a more stable parent – don’t get me wrong. What I became was a more seat-of-the-pants parent. My sons were my teachers and I grew more from my mistakes than from my successes. In truth, I was probably emotionally disabled, trying to get my own footing after our life had tipped into the deep end. Their dad had been the sage and experienced parent. In crisis we respond to what is apparent now and for me that was that music soothed each one, bonded them together and gave expression to their fear and anguish and ultimately the dynamism of their growing mastery of life as a young man.
Choosing to live by my own lights.
I share this because they are living a reality that is a dream, only, for so many who dare not reach or maybe reach, but believe the nonsense about instant success and don’t embrace the work and discipline in gaining and perfecting a skill. Many – and I was one as a youth – feared failure or looking bad or foolish – and am only now choosing to live by my own lights.
And what are my own lights? I didn’t set out to live overlooking the Aegean Sea in Greece. Although Ironically all through my darling husband’s lengthy illness I had a picture on the wall of a bougainvillea covered terrace on our neighbouring island of Hydra. I had done a workshop and at the end the leader suggested to integrate our healing session, we should go forward in time and write ourselves a letter of how we got from here to there. Presumably it was a letter from our higher Self and I was quite comforted by the words. When I saw the picture in Architectural Digest, I knew it was where I had written from, so to speak. Whenever I was overwhelmed with grief, fear or plain exhaustion I would look at the picture and know that I weathered the storm and was all right.
And interestingly, at George’s funeral, one friend asked another where they saw me a year from then. And the answer was, ‘Oh, on and island in Greece, writing a book.’ Well, it took seven years and not one, and the book is begun, but a few things had to come into alignment first. Clearly, though, my soul had a picture of which my persona had not been entirely informed. And, of course, their is the further irony that the company I incorporated in 2005, I named Artemis; that I would meet a Greek man within the year and that his pivotal moment as a young dancer in the 70’s would be the first viewing of the statue in the National Gallery in Athens, “Zeus of Artemesius”.
So synchronicity plays its part – and in the words of Carl Jung, the more enthusiastic you are the greater the incidence of that synchronicity. But first you have to be packing light and willing to go when beckoned. Packing light is by process of knowing your deepest desires are in fact directives from your higher Self to what is needed for your essence to flourish. For me, my heart’s desire was to live simply, my eyes filled every day with the beauty of nature, to have quality wholesome food, fresh daily, to have clean water, and a lifestyle that supported the creative process. In proximity to the dynamism of a city, yet in a tranquil community. In a community with kindred spirits and similar values in matters of wellness, creativity and philosophy. I desire to be part of a bigger movement in holistic lifestyle – and have found all of this here in Greece, Hellas, on the island of Aegina overlooking the Aegean. This is no dream, but paradisos.