Article: Katerina Tsitoura

Translation: Anna Athanasiou

“Our lives quick as lightning, but we still have time”, Nikos Kazantzakis

Dalai Lama when asked about what amazed him most in the world, his response wasn’t about a masterpiece, a fascinating landscape nor that place, that’s eternally carved in the conscience due to its incomparable beauty. Dalai Lama qualifies the people, the creators of art and the violators of nature, who sacrifice their own health in the pursuit of money and in the end, lose all their possessions trying to regain their lost resilience. Humans too scared about the future and incapable of enjoying the present, who go through the notion of living as immortals, but later die without ever having really lived. That type of human is an object of analysis for those who have discovered that the ‘now’ is equivalent to the only chance that humans get for more than barely surviving.

Doesn’t it scare you? The thought that time passes in reverse while you’re there trying to decode all the hidden meanings of the word ‘happiness’, desperately trying to satisfy all your vain ambitions. And you wake up trembling, powerless to escape all your past phantoms and the memories you never allowed yourself to forget.

You’re now shedding all those tears for your bad choices, but can’t you see that tears only darken the sky of the moment?

And you’re trying so hard to secure solid grounds to build your future upon, having forgotten that you’re the one cautiously holding on to the first brick of the construct of your dreams.

So you keep walking in a world that doesn’t forgive those who waste the present of life, in a show that’s over before it even began. A spectator to your own show. And you’d better not forget that the ticket price of a play never performed, costs a little too much.

Years ago, I met an old man with eyes as bright as the summer mornings of our childhood. A blessed man, with a mind sharp as a razor and an astonishing will to create. He still worked on the business he had set up with great strain and was surrounded by a family so effortlessly happy (those families not afraid to express their feelings, hold a grudge from time to time and love each other a little more when they’re over it).

And as every human being with an imperative need for control, I ached to find the secret. As if there is a specific algorithm that instantly grants you access to the heaven of blissful content.

He scrutinized me for a while and then he smiled knowingly, as if having me pegged as one of those unrepentant rationalists, who analyze thoroughly the past and in great detail weave their future, letting the present pass them by.

My dear girl, I will now tell you a story. I once had a friend. He was a really good pal but always so stressed. He worked non-stop, like a man desperate to predict all the parameters of the impetuous river that is life. But remember, the river longs for freedom, and not dams. And every time I encouraged him to lay back and enjoy the fascinating journey to Ithaca, his response was always the same:

“Just for a bit longer Kostas, just for a bit longer. Soon I’ll retire and then dear friend, I’ll revel in everything that I missed for so long’’

How bizarre… His weary voice’s still ringing in my ears.

“Yeah, you probably guessed it. He didn’t retire and he didn’t really live. So, don’t be like him. Never postpone laughs and hugs, holding on to this gift, but stubbornly refusing to unwrap it. What’s the value of even the best gift in the world, if you don’t take the time to rid it of all its unnecessary ribbons and get fully engrossed in its content?”

Today, I remembered the story of that old man. Maybe, the balcony of our worst fears is equivalent to the passivity of today. And maybe, we’re the ones who choose the balconies that best suit us, and we transform them into either our worst nightmares or into wonderfully bloomed gardens.