There is a fast ferry between Aegina Island where I live and the port of Pireaus in Greece, but I prefer the slow boat any day. It is a super, guilt-free, time to have an ipnaki (nap) or if we take our hotspot, to catch up on emails and such. On the ferry Agios Nektarios, I particularly love sitting on the white benches on the upper deck and watch the sun set as I return home from a day in Athens.
Not long ago, I was enjoying my tea on one of the larger ferries and was struck by this old man who left his family in the back lounge area and came forward to kneel like child on the upholstered banquette and peer out the front window. I couldn’t help but take his photo as I felt my heart lift at the rapture on his face.
Was this his first trip back to his home island since he was a child? Was he peering into the past? Was this what he used to do when he broke away from his mother to run like many children do to harmlessly explore the vastness of the ferry interior? Or was he going to visit a new great grandchild and he was peering into the future? The feeling I got that emanated out from his beaming smile, his rapt attention to the sea before him and Aegina in the distance was absolute joy in the moment.
He was like a child. Full of wonder. Delighting in the moment.
This lovely old man reminded me that to truly embrace life and know the joy of being alive, we must retain the wonder of seeing everything we encounter as a new experience. Too often we use a past reference to judge our present moment. Things we encounter like the sea, a boat ride, a tree or even people’s faces become symbols only of homogenized memories of gathered experiences.
When we see a field of wildflowers, do we stop and step in amongst the coloured blossoms so we can hear the bees at work changing the world one grain of pollen at a time? When we see a tiny green shoot rising through the cracks in concrete, do we stop with awe at its mighty power to cast manmade nonsense aside and rise, tiny tendril to the sun? When we see someone with white hair and a wrinkled face, do we look deeply into their eyes and see agelessness?
We came to Greece to a live simpler life. We are just as engaged in our business as ever, but we have time to just stop and watch the sun set every evening. It has become a ritual for us. It is always and forever different each night. It is the reminder to come to each experience and encounter with life expectant of what it has to offer us and how we can receive it. Each night the sun is on a slightly different point of its arc through the seasons. Each night the mood of the sky is reflected back at the world through the silver white spill across the sea or the exuberant audacious display of a startling pallet from aubergine to tangerine. Each night we stand aware that the sun is not in fact setting but we are hurtling away from it on this spinning planet. The day is done and will not come again. Life is precious. Every sunset. Every smile. Every moment.
Stop in wonder. See what is before you with fascination. Embrace each morning of your life in expectation of something WONDER FULL and you will find it.
Me agapi (with love),