Monthly Archives: October 2009

What if…

You don’t ask… you don’t get !


There are a lot of things we can teach our children… but this question, I believe, is one of the most important.
There are a lot of good habits we can all develop as individuals… but few are better than the ability to ask and work through “what if” scenarios.

There are few questions that can nourish the mind as much as  what if

It’s only two words… but they have probably started the right minds, thinking about the right things and finding the right answers, throughout the history of mankind. Chances are that every single invention, innovation, creation, design, art piece, book subject, movie script, idea development process, architectural plan, exploration plan and technology… started by someone uttering the words “what if”.

These words are the trigger of possibility thinking. The beginning of a mental journey that opens up new worlds of what is possible. They are the beginning of dreams… dreams that have changed the world into what it is today and will be tomorrow. They are the starting blocks of change, the very ignition of the thinking fuse that results in big bang ideas. They are the sparks that light up the infinite power of the human mind.

They are very low key words, hardly rate a mention in our praise of words and their power. Yet they would have to be the most powerful catapult for human ingenuity that has ever existed. Take a moment if you will… to think about the kinds of people (read: extraordinary people) that have no doubt uttered these words over the millennia. From the philosophers of ancient Greece and the Egyptian architects, to NASA mission planners and Disney imagineers. The scientists, the mathematicians, the visionary civic leaders… they all uttered these words. It is how everything we see around us started…

On an individual basis the importance of these words can not be overstated. The frequency with which we ask these words, the meaning we place on the question that these words preface and the scenarios we construct around them, say everything about who we are as individuals. Use them often enough and your mind becomes used to exploring ideas, dreams…. exploring the possible and redefining the impossible. They really are life changing words… if only we used them often enough and allowed them to trigger the full capacity of our brain into action.

What if you could have anything you wanted…what would it be?

What if you knew you couldn’t fail…what would you try?

What if you could make your dreams come true… what would you dream of?

Its amazing what worlds these two little words can open up… if only we allowed ourselves the pleasure to use them more often and then sit back and enjoy the results of a human brain at work.

Nothing is impossible for your brain… you just need to ask the magic words ;-)

::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::

Thank you to all of you that have submitted your “Santorini Dreaming” essays. To those of you that are still thinking and/or dreaming about it,
ask yourselves… “what if ?”

::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::

Lot of interest generated from the “Respect… the power of one” post . Please take a look if you haven’t read it. No matter where in the world you live… I would love you to take a “respect” photo and email it to me. I know that a lot of you don’t believe that alone you can make a difference… but you can !

Beauty of nature

Sublime sunrise
Santorini, October 2009

It seems so hard to understand,
As I look across the land,
That all I view belongs to me…
I ought to take more time to see.
                                                     (anon) 

IMGP4962

 

IMGP4961

 

 

IMGP4960

I’ve always believed there are rewards for those of us that rise early…
 

::   ::  ::  ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::

 

respect

Thank you to Lisa for sending in the first “respect” photo… written on the sands of North Avoca Beach, NSW Australia.

If you haven’t seen the post…you can read about my  “Respect” concept here !

You can visit Lisa here and read the inspirational story of Hillary and the Hills Angels !

 

::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::

 

If you haven’t followed this blog for long and you are not aware of the “Santorini dreaming” short essays contest, then you may be missing out on a chance of a lifetime. The idea is simple… tell us in one thousand words or less what you would like to do, what you have always dreamed (or dreamt) of doing or what you have already done on Santorini. In short… tell us your dream holiday on Santorini or the dreamy holiday you have already spent here in the past. The winner gets to enjoy an incredible holiday here next year… made possible by the sponsors:  

andronis

 

VVlogo

logo

There are over a million people that visit Santorini every year… but NONE of them ever experiences what the winners of this contest will experience next year.

There were a number of posts leading up to the Santorini Dreaming contest. I have compiled all of them on the Santorini Dreaming page… please visit and read about this opportunity to fulfil your Santorini dream.

You can click on the “Santorini Dreaming” page on the main menu or you can  click here !

“Santorini Dreaming” – 2 weeks to enter

If you haven’t followed this blog for long and you are not aware of the “Santorini dreaming” short essays contest, then you may be missing out on a chance of a lifetime. The idea is simple… tell us in one thousand words or less what you would like to do, what you have always dreamed (or dreamt) of doing or what you have already done on Santorini. In short… tell us your dream holiday on Santorini or the dreamy holiday you have already spent here in the past. The winner gets to enjoy an incredible holiday here next year… made possible by the sponsors:  

andronis

 

VVlogo

 

logo

There are over a million people that visit Santorini every year… but NONE of them ever experiences what the winners of this contest will experience next year.

There were a number of posts leading up to the Santorini Dreaming contest. I have compiled all of them on the Santorini Dreaming page… please visit and read about this opportunity to fulfil your Santorini dream.

You can click on the “Santorini Dreaming” page on the main menu or you can  click here !

 

Been a few days since my last post so today there are two…below is the real post of the day:  “Oia – paths less travelled”

Hope you enjoy !

Oia – paths less travelled

Like any busy tourist town or village,  Oia has it’s busy lanes, paths and steps…. and then there are those used mostly by locals. The following is a small glimpse of Oia through my eyes… taking paths less travelled and sights less seen.

It’s Oia backstreets in the autumn light. Hope you enjoy ;-)

 

 

oia1

If only the steps could talk…

 

oia2

You probably drive up to your front door… here it’s a little different

 

 

oia4

Here our streets are… well, let’s just say  “a bit more poetic”  

 

oia5

the path is often someone’s front porch and someone else’s roof… 

 

oia1a

but that makes for interesting angles… 

 

 

oia1b

the shooter shoots the shooter…

 

 

oia1c

an hour before sunset…the shadows are long
(right below the cruise ships is the Summer Lovers house, all boarded up for winter) 

 

oia1d

the paths are almost empty… the village is mine again

 

oia1e

the light is much softer… but the views remain the same – sublime !

 

I am sorry I haven’t posted much lately. There’s a lot going on (the business end of the year is starting) and there are many big plans for Aegean Designs… more on that soon. I am so looking forward to the blissful quiet of winter, the time to sit and think, read and write. The time to walk through the paths you just saw and many others which I will photograph for you. I hope you can keep me company through winter from your own corner of the world !

PS: Don’t forget to enter your “Santorini dreaming” essay for a chance to be here next year, to live your dream and walk these same paths in magical Oia. 

 

 

Respect & the power of one !

bad-125-125

It is one of the most fascinating, inspiring and thought provoking stories I have ever heard and/or read. If you are  Australian you would…or at least should, know his name.  For the rest of you all over the world let me introduce you  to a very ordinary man… who managed to capture the attention and imagination of millions… in a very extraordinary way!

Before we continue let me say that I am not in any way, shape or form a religious person. I would best be described as an
agnostic… so the purpose of writing this post is not to promote religion in any way. In fact I see quite the opposite…
I see it as the power of an individual to make a difference in a peaceful, dignified and highly effective way.

Quite simply it is “the power of one” in a beautifully pure, most elegant… most powerful form !

It is the human collective being proactive at the most basic…individual level.

[btw :- this is a long and I believe important post… so if you don’t have time to read right now then leave it for later – don’t rush through it, give yourself enough time to read and think for a while]

The story begins during the great depression… in Sydney, Australia. Many of the city’s residents have fallen through the cracks, many are homeless and an even greater number are living in the streets and parks of the city. Arthur Stace was a hopeless alcoholic, drinking metholated spirits and sleeping in the gutters and parks of the seedier parts of Sydney. Since his early teens he had been in and out of jail, joined petty crime gangs, worked in brothels and gambling houses and was essentially a hopeless, raving, perpetually drunken loser in the streets of Surry Hills. During the first world war he had served in France and returned almost blind in one eye. He immediately went back to his habitual drinking binges, but like many street drunks he gradually cascaded from beer and whisky to cheap wine and eventually metholated spirits… the cheapest form of alcohol. His extreme alcoholism had meant that he essentially lived in a permanent drunken stupor.

One day Arthur noticed some well dressed people heading towards a church and he followed them in. Many years later he told reporters that he felt that he wanted to be like them… normal, well dressed and respected by people. He started to attend church regularly and slowly managed to give up drinking. His new determination also landed him a job on the sandmills and he slowly started to get back his self respect. Then… one day he attended Burton Baptist Church at Darlinghurst where he heard the evangelist Reverend John Ridley say “I wish I could shout ETERNITY through the streets of Sydney”. He apparently repeated the word over and over during his sermon. Stace later recalled “he repeated himself and kept shouting ‘ETERNITY, ETERNITY’ and his words were ringing in my ears”.

As he left the church he apparently got an overwhelming urge to write the word ‘ETERNITY’. He found a piece of chalk and bent down and wrote it on the footpath. Many years later he recalled “the funny thing is that before I wrote it I could hardly have spelled my own name. I had no schooling and I couldn’t have spelt “Eternity” for a hundred quid…but it came out smoothly in beautiful copperplate script. I couldn’t understand it and still can’t”.

Arthur Stace begun rising before dawn every morning and before people reached train and bus stations he would go and write that one word “Eternity” in his distinctive copperplate script. He started with chalk but eventually changed to crayons as they lasted longer in the damp winter days of Sydney. He wrote the word every hundred yards or so, over and over… and over. Half a million times it has been estimated. Millions of people around Sydney started to ask who the “ETERNITY” man was and many came forward claiming to be responsible. But Arthur kept quietly writing the word, on footpaths, steps and park walkways. He kept spreading his one-word message to all those who could read it. He was diligent, relentless and passionate in his efforts. He eventually became notorious… although nobody knew who he was or that he was responsible for the one word sermon all over Sydney. He was eventually discovered and when asked by the judge “are you the ETERNITY man?”… he answered “guilty your honour”.

Arthur Stace died in a nursing home in 1967. Since then there have been many debates and heated discussions on “if” and how to best honour the man. At one stage the Sydney Council was going to place permanent plaques with “that word” around the areas he frequented during his many years of writing on the pavements. Eventually he got his memorial in Sydney Square… designed by architect Ridley Smith (who was named after the preacher that converted Stace). The word Stace wrote all over Sydney now stands in the Square in big letters for all to see. But the little man’s message didn’t end there. During the Sydney Olympics it was decided to honour Arthur Stace and his noble, one-word message on the most visible of all Sydney landmarks… the Harbour Bridge. During the conclusion of the spectacular Opening Ceremony fireworks on the bridge (with billions of people watching on TV) there was the little man’s one word message to the world. The passion and power of ONE man… using ONE single word to spread his message !

eternity1

eternity 2

eternity_ON_harbour_bridge

This story has been floating around in my mind for many years. As an ex newspaper man, an advertising and marketing man and as a voracious reader, I have always believed in the immense power of the written word. I have always believed in the power of the simple and concise message. I have always believed in the “power of one” to make a difference… on any level, on any stage.

Initially I was going to write this story as part of the “find your passion” series on this blog. But something held me back… until earlier this week when  I read about Blog Action Day. I read about the efforts to generate awareness for the environment as well as other worthy causes. My mind started to drift to all the articles, news items, documentaries and thousands of debates that have raged over the past ten years or so, relating to saving our planet. I started to think about the wisdom of trying to change people’s habits by scaring them, by throwing volumes of information at them, by having public debates between industry lobby groups and the scientific community… and the worst possible messengers of all, the “politicians”. I thought about the information overload that we all live in, the multitude of media channels that now compete for our collective mind-space. I thought about the complexity of every day life compared to that of 40-50 years ago. I thought about the endless ways that special interest groups try to reach and hold our attention… try to get us to contribute, to be involved, to participate.

I thought about the state of our world today and the volumes that could be written about it’s problems. I thought about Blog Action Day and the potential power of blogs to make a difference. I thought about the need to simplify, simplify, simplify… when it comes to getting an effective message to people around the world. I thought about how we can possibly reduce all the things we need to say, to recommend, to remind, to suggest to people when it comes to our planet (not to mention several other issues). I thought about what we need to do to take this matter off the hands of those who only have self-interest in mind when they talk about the environment. I thought about how we can utilise the unlimited power of one and the infinite power of words to make our statement. A simple statement, made by an individual… any individual, anywhere in the world, without the need for political support or industry lobby group funding. How do we take this terribly convoluted mess we are in and turn it into something we all understand and we can all do something about.

Then… then I thought about Arthur, early on a rainy winter’s morning in Sydney. Walking in the dark until he found his first pavement for the day. Bending down and writing the word he believed would make a difference if read often enough… his one-word message. I thought about the beautiful simplicity and understated elegance of his chosen medium. I thought about how we can apply it to our problems today… our environment/planet in particular. What word do we need to use to spread our message, to awaken people’s consciousness, to make people think twice before they make things worse for all of us, to remind people of their responsibility without confusing them or hitting them over the head with volumes of research and politically motivated propaganda?

That was the question in my mind as I went to sleep last night… and, believe it or not, around 3am this morning I woke up mouthing the word. The new age gurus will say that it was the “universe” answering my call… but I would much rather believe that a little old man whispered something in my ear.

So early this morning I went and wrote this word somewhere where thousands of people would see it. They won’t know what it means…yet!
But they will if we all do it. That’s what’s known as critical mass. The tipping point. The creation of “buzz”… and all through our word of mouth.
What’s the word? The word is simple, it’s humble and it spells out in the most concise way what we need to develop for our small planet:

respect

Now, I know it’s much easier to be cynical about these things… but let me explain my thoughts. If each one of us, the people that read this blog, goes out and writes this word in a place where it can be seen by many, then we are on our way to creating a quiet, but potent movement. A new version of the “power of one” model. This is the ‘internet-empowered’ version,  which I call “one… to the power of many“. You can write it on the sand of a beach you love, on the pavement of a park you love to walk in, the steps leading to a fantastic view somewhere in your city, or the pavement of a busy street, a railway station, a city mall. You can write it anywhere and take a photo of it. We can start publishing these photos from around the world and develop an international gallery of “Respect”… on a dedicated blog. I realise you might be thinking that it’s a cute idea but really quite pointless because people will not know what “respect” means if they see it written somewhere… but you would be wrong. Buzz always starts small and picks up momentum. Word of mouth is an invisible tidal wave once it picks up critical mass. “Respect” as a word that represents what we all should feel… is a concept that can travel the world in seconds thanks to the power of the internet and the collective power of blogging.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let us follow Arthur’s lead and do it one small step at a time. Write the word once… and take a photo of it. Then email the photo and spread the word.  Surely we can all do that much ;-)

PS: this is a big topic and I would gratefully welcome your input. Send me your thoughts pro or con. Something needs to be done and I just happen to believe that the little old man from Sydney showed us that the passion of even “one”… can go a long way.

PPS: to all those who left kind words and good wishes… thank you. You have humbled me. I am almost back to normal. Face still has some battle scars, but nothing major. The hand still has a few holes that need to heal… but really, it’s nothing. Certainly nothing compared to what it could have been. Maybe little old Arthur Stace wanted me to write his story…. it’s a nice thought ;-)

UPDATE:

A number of thoughtful people have taken this post seriously enough to send us “Respect” photos from their part of the world. You can see their poignant photos and simple messages HERE ! I hope you too can follow their example and show the power of one by joining our movement of  “Respect”.

Statistic

They say that it’s not “if” a motorbike rider will have a crash… its “when”.  The answer was “today”…

Rocks fallen on the road (as they often do after becoming loose on the cliffs of Santorini), taking the corner and trying to avoid them… only to hit the soft soil on the side. I can now vouch from experience that when human face, knees and hands hit the bitumen… the bitumen wins ;-(

Still… it could’ve been a hell of a lot worse. I think this was my wake up call to not let the mind drift when riding.

Sore now… will probably wake up a lot more so. Face and right hand took the impact but all things considered I walked, or rode away, in much better shape than I should have. I’m actually quite pissed off because I had been saving a post for a while and tonight was the night. But right hand is a bit too sore to type… so it will have to wait till tomorrow or Wednesday.

To those of you that have already sent your essay for Santorini Dreaming… thank you !

To those of you that are still considering it… dare to dream!

“Santorini dreaming” essays – enter now !

dream quote 1

 

It all started as an idea over dinner… to make someone’s dream come true. Since then there have been many phone calls, meetings and discussions about how, where and when. I have given you glimpses of the hotels and have outlined what you have to do to enter.

You have waited patiently for this final overview of the conditions of entry and prize listing… so here it is !

Ahem… we have to sound all official now:

 

Grand prize

5 nights accommodation for two on Santorini:

2 x nights at “Volcano View Villas” 

3 x nights at “Andronis Luxury Suites” in Oia

(Please note: the grand prize does NOT include airfares to Greece. Accommodation will be provided between June 15th – July 15th 2010… exact dates to be confirmed at the time the winner is announced)

The winner will also enjoy:

– a romantic dinner for two

– wine tasting at Santo wines

– dinner at Ammoudi (Oia)

– Aegean Designs gift 

We are also arranging many other surprises which will make your stay on Santorini very memorable. You will see and experience things that most visitors never do and you will meet many of the locals in Oia. But most of all… you will have the time to enjoy yourselves in one of the world’s most beautiful villages, on arguably the world’s most dramatic & romantic island… staying in two of the very best hotels it has to offer.

The two runners up will also receive gifts from Aegean Designs as well as discount vouchers from the two participating hotel sponsors.

Conditions of entry 

 An essay of under 1000 words will need to be submitted via email to:

oiadweller at yahoo dot com

Entries will be accepted from Friday 9th October 2009 – Monday 9th November 2009.

Please note that depending on volume received Oiasantorini.com reserves the right to post/publish any or all of the submitted entries.

The winner will be announced on Friday 20th November 2009.

 

I hope this is all taken in the spirit it was meant. This is not a commercial competition by multinational travel agencies. It was put together so that all of you would get a chance to actually articulate your dream holiday on Santorini and a couple of you will get an opportunity to live your dream. It was done in the hope that the whole process will make you think about the kind of things you would love to do, see and experience on your dream holiday on Santorini. You will be doing what millions of people around the world only ever dream about…

For my part I very much look forward to reading your essays and being transported into your vision. I also look forward to spending some time with the winners, enjoy showing through you my little village… maybe watching a sunset and sharing a nice dinner by the water  ;-)

It has taken a lot of work to arrange this… now it’s my turn to sit back and let you put your dreamweaver talents to work. 

Good luck to all !

M

PS: there will be a special “Santorini dreaming” page set up for all information and related posts… please check it for updates and latest information