(always late) Arrival to Ithaka

 

Glimpse into my life: A few days ago I finished university. I am now waiting for my graduation ceremony and there is a lot I am planning for the future: an MFA degree, as much travelling as possible, lots of writing and some work experience, of course. It is the very first step, a small victory allowing me to try for the next one. How much does it feel like one, though? – enough about me!

There is always a bittersweet taste when something ends, especially a part of your life you enjoyed as much as I enjoyed university. Of course, there is always someone with that typical saying  at the tip of their tongue: “one thing ends and another one begins”. Well, as much as this sounds helpful in the movies, in life things tend to get a little bit more complicated than that. There are people, places and habits you leave behind and the separation can be hard.

So this Sunday afternoon we are talking about the irony of dream-chase. I read a quote by Neil Gaiman recently and it instantly brought tears to my eyes because I now know how truthful it is: “the price of getting what you want is getting what you once wanted”. I usually forget quotes even the ones that really impress me but this one felt like a punch in the stomach and I don’t think I will ever be able to let it go. So let’s talk about it Let’s examine the tones of wisdom hidden in every word. 

Being people, we are made to evolve. We are made to change day by day, minute by minute and that change depends on our experiences. We’re not goldfish, we learn even from the slightest experience. As we change, our dreams alter so do our priorities and our values. That is very healthy and we should be open to it. It is  after all the only way in order to become better. But we also become more and more afraid because aside of the brilliance of independence, the always-growing strength, the depths of human affection and the beyond-the-sky levels of actually being when falling in love, we discover the edges of our pain tolerance – and there’s no such thing! -, the fear of being less than enough, the certainty that we never were enough in the first place and the realisation that life has a way of trapping us like mice inside our own choices, our own rights and wrongs, inside our minds. 

All the above make our dreams change. You wish you would dare to be that childhood fantasy of yourself and it now seams completely… impractical? Even crazy! Who are the brave ones who will dare to be it? The “brave ones” or the idiots, who will end up regretting their lack of reason in their decisions?

And so, when you reach the mountain top. It now looks like a different place than the one you once had in mind. It’s not. It is usually exactly that. It’s you! It’s your eyes that look at it differently now. With a little more fear, a little more practicality and maybe – if you’ve been smart enough to understand the paths this journey led you through to get you right here – with a little more wisdom.

So, since you’ll always end up in the wrong place because your desires will always be one step ahead of you, just try for the best and appreciate what the steps you took to get there gave you. That’s why the beautiful quote we discuss today is not pessimistic at all, when you read it a second time. It would be a curse to be completely satisfied with what you have, because the only true gift humanity was ever given is no other than curiosity!

p.s. Sorry I’ve been away! Exams were a lot to handle. I’m back to stay!

Relevant recommendationC.P. Cavafy discussed what we are talking about today lots and lots of years ago in a beautiful poem, if you haven’t read Ithaka, you can enjoy it easily. Google it!

 

Have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

A little something you forgot to consider

When you look at the world you see a combination of brilliance and dirt altogether. It makes you want to get out and explore every single part of it, every possible human emotion and at the same time, it makes you want to run to bed and stay there forever. It’s like being in a huge library with a billion books. You wish you’ll choose the most fascinating ones, those that will teach you a lot and make you a wiser person but still… you cannot know the ending in advance. There’s always a risk.  It’s scary – terrifying actually – but I suppose life can give you a few things that are worth the “pain and the aches of the outcoming fortune” in the words of the Danish Prince.

It is incredible that you have all these choices concerning who you want to become and how you want to use your life in order to contribute to society. But what most people forget to mention when they talk about the endless possibilities is risk and fear. The smallest choice you make has outcomes. There’s never a win-win situation. You always have to face consequences, responsibilities and stand up for the path you took and for the person you are today.

We chose friends, behaviors, careers, lovers, places to live in and even ways to approach situations. Every little thing is crucial but there are some choices bigger than others. These are the choices that will change your life. When you stand in front of a choice this big, I tell you, it’s scary. Nobody mentions that. Everyone goes on and on about doing the right thing but… when you’re actually standing a step away from opening one door or another, you can’t see “right” or “wrong”. You can only see the regret at the end of each way and you’re afraid of it. There are paths that guarantee security and others that involve greater risk.

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Making the step is hard. But no matter what you have been thinking so far, no matter what all the voices around you have been going on and on about, you have to take a step back and put yourself in the microscope. I don’t mean endless hours of worrying and re-thinking – which is something I am guilty of, to be honest – but to really stand across your deepest desire and ask yourself “Where do you want to go?”.

This process is usually so hard because we forget to keep in mind the fear that goes with it. It’s what we forget to consider when we make plans. Fear is usually a huge part of our choices but it shouldn’t be. Go with your gut. There is an instinct inside every one of us, we’ve just learned to ignore it over the years while trying to rationalize everything.

Remember back when you were a kid? You took one look at a person and you knew if you liked them or not. You went to ballet lessons for a week to find out you want to quit and then you tried piano and Italian and none of those were right for you. You knew and you were not afraid to admit you changed your mind. Nobody would call you a loser. Then, you finally tried tennis or playing the tuba and it was fun. You couldn’t see the time to go to practice. That’s what we suppress over the years, our pure instincts. We learn to like what we should like but, how will we ever be happy if we don’t risk walking the road our heart tells us it leads to happiness?

Charles Bukowski said “Go all the way” and he was right. If you don’t go all the way, you’ll never know. It takes a huge amount of courage to stop thinking of every little thing that can go wrong and focus on your pure desire. Don’t be afraid of it. Take a step on the path your heart points at. There must be some reason. Show it some trust and you’ll eventually find out why it took you there.

Have a magical day,

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou

Scientific or Social?

For more than 2.500 years we’ve been evolving. We’ve been progressing in way’s no one could have thought of. We can access any information from any point of the world, we can get from Africa to America within hours, we can see our friend who lives miles away and talk to them every day, we can go to the moon! We are even preparing to explore other planets and eventually, some day.. the universe! It’s all so fascinating! Incredible, really… is it enough though? Have we forgotten about something even more important?

We’ve been progressing for more than 2.500 years… and it took more than twenty centuries to give women the right to vote, it took as much to start treating people of color as equals, it took even more to legalize homosexuality. Humanity had the technology to build airplanes, telephones and cars but the same people couldn’t realize what they were doing during the second world war.

Have we focused too much on scientific and technological progress? Have we forgotten to invest in more basic human needs? I meet people every day. They’re young people, students wanting to be scientists, teachers passing on their ideas, parents forming the future generations and… they are racist, misogynist and homophobic while they can use an i phone and handle the trickiest programs of a computer just fine. The problem is not in their minds. They have focused too much in one thing and forgotten about the other. They’ve left their humanity at home while working at the computer all day as they were an extend of it. As they were a machine. We execute commands one after the other just like a computer program. We don’t think. We act.

The education systems all around the world do not focus equally on science and the development of critical thinking. A kid who is doing great in math-class will be awarded. On the other hand, a kid with an extraordinary sense of justice or with a talent in abstract thinking won’t even be noticed. Science is what makes our lives better in so many ways but how could focusing only in one aspect be right? Human rights are just as important – or, I dare say, even more important – and by giving them priority, we will finally figure out how to use all those extremely precious scientific discoveries the right way.

We have to look at science critically and responsibly decide how to use every good that it gives us. Anything scientific, from medicine to technology is meant to serve humans. Humans are not made to serve it and it is only supposed to be used for good causes. Each person, whether you’re a lab scientist or just an i-phone user, has a responsibility. We are all part of this world and responsible for its future.

Maybe it’s time to start wondering why we do what we do and leave the how to do it aside just for a while. We’ve spent too much time focusing on technological progress -which is undoubtedly important and has made our lives a lot easier in many ways – but we’ve completely forgotten about working on our minds and our children’s minds in order to use the tools they have in the best way possible.

have a magical day,

 

 

glance at the sky

by Elena Ktenopoulou