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 of the water 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 in her mind 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 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 building up as the boat enters this mystical landscape. There are mountainous cliffs on both sides and then suddenly she looks up and sees the village of Oia… perched on the cliffs. 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 page one of a paperback novel with Fabio on the cover (sudden images of him with a broken nose following a close encounter with a seagull – ridiculous concept). No dear reader…. this is a lot more serious. 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 my island home.
Few places on this earth have the power to mesmerise you from afar… without having set 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 the most incredible visual display of raw nature on this planet. This is where Santorini is different to most places. As a doctor friend once said to me “it’s the only place I know that’s better than the postcards”. The difference is that it is impossible for your brain to conjure this 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.
I’ve seen a lot of people visit here over the years and met many many others that visited the island when younger. By far the happiest of these people are those that came here with 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 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 a comment or see an image, read a quote or pick up a brochure from a travel agent then sit and dream. If you allow them to change you… chances are they will. It can be the beginning of something wonderful in your life !
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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 image is for the lifestyle I have chosen. The magazine I was reading on the rooftop was open 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 in another post…