Monthly Archives: July 2010

change me…

The boat is gliding through the sparkling waves…. floating on a blue liquid she knows to be sea water but this is somehow different. The colour is iridescent and the sunlight reflection makes it look like liquid sapphire. The air,  that too feels different… the light is luminous and the afternoon breeze feels like silk running over her skin. She looks up and sees the island approaching. This is not just any island… it’s “the” island. It’s her fantasy island. She has dreamed about this. She has seen all this through her mind’s eye for years. The little white houses on top of the cliff look like sugar cubes and the landscape looks like nothing she has seen before…yet, its everything she has dreamed about. She is seeing Santorini for the first time and yet…in her mind… she has been here so many times before.

The boat begins to enter the narrow pass of water below Oia… entering the mythical Santorini caldera. There is music playing in her mind and the volume is rising as the boat enters this mystical landscape. There are dark, imposing cliffs on both sides and then suddenly she looks up and sees the village of Oia… perched on the cliff edge. It seems surreal. It seems like a dream… like she has jumped into a storybook that she herself has written. Her mind floods with thoughts. She has so much life ahead of her…so much to experience, so much to feel and see. Up until now she has done what she had to do, what was proper… what was expected of her. Now…this landscape suddenly makes her feel strangely and wonderfully free. She feels like a child again… she feels innocent and playful again. She feels alive

She grips the boat rail…closes her eyes while she takes a deep breath and whispers to herself…”change me”.

No…this is not the first page from  a Mills & Boon novel with Fabio on the cover (sudden image flash of him on the roller coaster with a broken nose following a close encounter with a seagull – ridiculous concept). No dear reader…. this is a lot more real. This is a what happens daily to dozens of women (and if you change a couple of the words… it just as easily applies to men), who visit this island.

Few places on earth have the power to mesmerise you from afar… without ever setting foot on them. In most cases once you get there they are a disappointment. Your fantasy is a very powerful dream-machine… one that most “actual” places find it impossible to compete with. Your fantasy is based on your perception of perfection and no place can be perfect. No place can be better than the ultimate paradise you have conjured up in your mind. That is of course as long as your mind can conjure up arguably one of the most incredible visual displays of raw nature on this planet. This is where Santorini is different to most places. As a friend once said to me “it’s the only place I know that’s much better than the postcards”. The difference is that it is impossible for your brain to conjure this landscape up on it’s own. The real will always be better than your imagination… and this is where the magic spell begins. Your eyes capture the images… they send them to your brain, which… after an initial denial period, carefully files the images away…. only to retrieve them regularly when you need to experience “mental escape”. So people dream… often for years. They experience daily life with all it’s ups and downs, the happy times and the sad times. But all the while the images remain… the fantasy is alive deeeeeeep in the brain. Add some frustration because life hasn’t quite worked out according to plan… and you have the perfect mental storm for Santorini-fever. It can sometimes be a life-long craving… other times it becomes an ongoing obsession and other times it becomes a once-in-a-lifetime experience that changes people for ever. More often than not you will find yourself relaxing with a glass of wine over dinner or in conversation… and little movies start playing in your head. Your brain is mining the archives…

I’ve seen millions of people visit here over the years and met many others that visited the island when younger. By far the happiest of these people are those that came here with the ‘right’ attitude, an open mind… a willingness to experience, an anticipation fuelled by their imagination. Like our leading lady at the start of this post…. they looked and whispered “change me”. They opened themselves to the island to weave it’s magic. They tuned their mind to the spiritual presence of this wonder of nature. They were rewarded with wondrous memories and often a life-altering spiritual awakening.

It’s quite amazing what can happen to you if you are open to change… even on a daily basis in your home environment. You can hear spoken words or see an image, listen to a song lyric or read a quote… and suddenly, you are dreaming. If you allow these experiences to change you… chances are they will.

It can be the beginning of something wonderful in your life !

~ ~ ~

In the meantime… here is an image to help your mind drift to my part of the world. It was taken at sunset and it was only much later I realised  how poignant the captured magazine image is for the lifestyle I have chosen. The page was  opened randomly when I decided to take a quick pic… somehow I think the quick pic captured a lot more than a sunset  scene….

PS:  maybe we will continue the adventures of our lady-traveller another time…

;~

Happiness…

– “I just want to be happy

– “With what”?

– “Just…happy!”

hmmmm…. am I missing something? Is happiness something so forehead-slapping obvious that I blinked and missed it? Is this person saying they want to be happy, period?  Happy with everything and everyone in their life…. for ever??? Can anyone seriously have that as a goal in life?

If they do (have that as a goal)… aren’t they building an enormous and very pointy brick against which they will be banging their head for the rest of their lives?

In reality… “I just want to be happy” is a statement made by a person who is more than likely living an unexamined life (read: a person who has not tried to truly understand how life “really” works… how reality behaves all around them… someone who has not seriously attempted to think about the philosophy of life). That’s not meant as derogatory. This ‘state of being’ represents the large majority of people on this planet… it is a simple fact.

The puzzling reality is that a lot of people DO have that as a goal. It is a humble goal… in their way of thinking. They don’t want millions… they don’t want to be movie stars or prime ministers… they just want to be happy. Little do they realise that they would be infinitely better off wishing to be millionaires or movie stars or prime ministers. At least all of those (whilst difficult) are indeed possible.

People always have a puzzled expression on their faces when my reply to their “Are you happy?” question is always “happy with what?”.  They are obviously puzzled that my simple brain can’t fathom their seemingly “simple” question. After all… “happy” is what everyone wants to be… right?

Well… forgive my simple brain but it likes to define things before it starts believing in them and certainly before it accepts them as goals in life. To my way of thinking “happiness”… the one thing that everyone seemingly seeks in life, is one of the worst defined & most vague of concepts ever created by humans. Actually…let me rephrase that. “Being happy” at a given moment in time is very easily defined. “Being happy” in terms of life as a continuum… well that’s where things get murky.

Imagine if someone invited you to come to a football field with the promise to have “fun” by playing a game. You get there only to find there are thousands of other people on the field already. Nobody knows what the game is, nobody knows what the rules are and nobody knows what the expected outcome is. You are just supposed to do it… and have fun “doing” it. Would you willingly join such a game?

If you answered NO yet your goal in life is to just be “happy”, then I ask you this… what’s the difference?

You see… there are certain habits people fall into that almost guarantee their ongoing unhappiness in life. One of those… paradoxically, is expecting to somehow one day be “happy” all the time. The problem is that unless you have a bong permanently attached to your mouth, or you’re taking valium 24/7, or you spend your days looking for the bottom of whiskey bottles… you ain’t never going to be happy “all the time”. It simply doesn’t exist… it doesn’t happen… it CAN’T happen.

This means that these people are chasing a ghost… an impossibility. It means they live in a constant state of disappointment with life because they are NOT happy yet and, as we now know, they never WILL be happy “all the time”. They have fallen into life’s biggest trap.

Others start early on to believe that “money” or a great education is the key to happiness. Or that the “big house” in the “right” suburb/city/country will result in eternal happiness. “If I could just live in ‘………….’, I would be in bliss”.  Alas, it doesn’t work that way. Money does not guarantee happiness, a big house does not guarantee happiness… infact posessions period do not guarantee happiness. They are just manic substitute desires.

A great number of people are so massively confused about what really makes them happy that if they sat down and gave the whole concept some real thinking time they would be shocked at themselves. They would realize they don’t really need most of the things they desire… and they never really needed most of the things they already have. It’s a zero sum game. We con ourselves, quite literally advertise things to our own brain… making ourselves “believe” that we need certain things in order to “be happy”. As long as those things are not in our lives we can not possibly be happy… which in turn means by not being happy we are not working/living/thinking at our full potential. It’s a vicious circle.

So not only people don’t really understand what really makes them happy… they don’t understand the concept itself. They imagine it as a perpetual “state of being”… having reached a certain level of wealth or status or achievement in society/business.

There are of course people who are living on a more self-conscious level… having thought deep and hard about their very existence, their purpose, their happiness and the contribution they can make towards the happiness of others. These are not enlightened people… they are not exotic mystic gurus or Tibetan monks. They are simply people they have realized the importance of questioning and understanding their existence on this planet. They have asked the difficult questions of themselves and of the world they live in. They are living what Socrates called an “examined life”.

My experience, for what it’s worth, leads me to believe that the following are true:

–  Pain is inevitable – suffering is optional

–  Change is inevitable – adapting is optional

–  Stressors (anger) are inevitable – but stress itself is optional

–  Mistakes are inevitable – learning from them is optional

–  Obstacles are inevitable – ways around them are optional

–  Resistance is inevitable – acceptance is optional

–  Ignorance is the default – Knowledge & understanding are optional

–  Existing is the default – a “good life” , a conscious life, living a life of purpose… is very definitely optional

–  Meetings are inevitable – “friends” are optional

–  “Feel good” (read: ‘instant gratification’) is the default – “Discipline” is optional

–  The freeway (common pathway) is the default – walking on virgin snow is highly optional

–  “Ubiquity” is the default – “Individuality” is personal conviction & style… both of which are incredibly optional

– “Yes” is the default – “No” is the discipline (especially to temptations… which are also ubiquitous)

–  A life of fame & fortune is delusional –  a life of dignity & purpose is a personal mission

– “Just enough” is more…

–  You can never fully appreciate your life… until you have pondered the question of death and what it means to you.

–  The world does not belong to those who create/dream/innovate/redefine….. it belongs to those who can execute/act/complete (if you can do both you are unstoppable)

–  Understanding “Time ” and having the “Patience” to make it work for you gives you an almost unfair advantage…

–  Everything in the universe is very finely balanced. Your own balanced life will fit harmoniously into that ecosystem. On the other hand…an unbalanced life is rejected like a bad transplant.

At the end of it all “happiness” is not something mythical or mystical. It’s really something very elegantly simple (as most good things in life tend to be). You can achieve it hourly/daily with very little effort and at no expense. All you have to do is figure out what it is… and all that takes is a little bit of thought…..  ;-)

PS: If you care to discuss further… please leave a comment or email.