Γηράσκω δ’ αἰεὶ πολλὰ διδασκόμενος.
I grow old ever learning many things. — Solon of Athens.
For as long as I can remember I’ve fought against a perpetual ideal, the constant striving and constant self critical cycle of wanting to be the best at something ( or die trying??) and missing out on what my failures are teaching me in order to become better.
Well Yes “No one is perfect.”
We are taught at a very young age to strive for betterment, perfection, ideal, the “best” of something and at something. We fight for grades, we pull all nighters to get a degree, we deprive ourselves of comfort, sleep, and sanity to reach a higher goal and achievement. And when our flaws are pointed out to us or we fail at something we tried, so hard for, we repeat ourselves its ok… “Well… no one is perfect”. And often we give up.
Yet, perfection or the attaining of it in its original form is a flawed premise. It defeats the purpose of a teachable moment, its gives us an excuse to stay focused on an unattainable unreachable ideal rather than the beauty of constantly improving and learning from our own imperfection. We have to keep saying : it’s ok I suck at this and I’m not good enough right now, but I won’t give up”. We give in to this ideal in our minds, yet perfection isn’t what we should be aiming for in the first place.
Of course no one is perfect. There is no such thing.
Perfection isn’t the point. It’s the mastery, improving, evolving and learning from our mistakes. Perfection is a fallacy, it’s a mirage. And those who battle with perfection, reaching it, attaining it or embodying it, are losing on the beauty and necessity of imperfection.
One of my favorite Ashtanga Yoga teachers is in my eyes absolutely perfect. He is my ideal practitioner and teacher. He is kind, loving, supportive, funny and a really cool dude, as well as probably the most accomplished Ashtanga Yoga teachers worldwide. I credit a lot of my teaching ethics to him ( I won’t say his name cause that’s not the point). Yet one day, during a workshop I was attending, this seemingly perfect teacher with all the answers, said that he still struggles with a pose I find absolutely excruciatingly difficult, even though it’s not considered that challenging.
And I felt a wave of irony and laughter filling my lungs.
What??? This guy is not perfect? He has flaws, he struggles with poses, but he’s like a god! And all of a sudden, the way I saw my own practice and of course my whole relationship with yoga changed. I no longer aspired to be the best most perfect practitioner of all time, (which wasn’t a realistic goal to begin with) but to be the most empathetic, supportive, driven, and disciplined I could be with all my physical flaws and imperfections.
Let’s be honest; when someone tells you “well you’re not perfect… but….” run far away. Because perfection is stagnancy and a bad excuse for not trying harder, not evolving and improving on what you already have. Perfection as a measure of character is also unrealistic and this pervasive thought that if you’re not perfect you aren’t good enough; isn’t helpful for betterment.
Challenging our boundaries, finding ways to advance our craft, our selves, our way of thinking means fully accepting that we’re all works in progress, constantly improving and learning.
We will never reach perfection and that is just perfect.
I recently attended a workshop and discussion on Tantra as a methodology and philosophy. In my 20 years of yoga practice, I am still learning of this vast body of knowledge, of which I have explored very few aspects of.
For any one curious about Tantra, its origins its philosophy and its many offshoots; thousands of books have been written on the matter, some from a Yoga perspective, some from a spiritual practice and of course the more widely talked about and frequently advertised sexual explorations.
The divine feminine/ masculine the transformation of energy and sexual energy into something spiritual is a multi layered and multi faceted subject. It’s not just about sex. My problem with the workshop I attended, and many more that are out there on the philosophy of Tantra; is that most people will reduce this sacred ancient tradition to a new spice in their sexual exploration cabinet.
How do we deeply connect to these concepts without distorting them? How do we show reverence and respect for such traditions without transforming them into sound bites, easy quotes and convenient tricks?
For what seems to be the “the meeting of man and woman; the transformation of energy through sex, love and meditation. ” (Osho) becomes a gimmick and a pick up line.
Tapping into the deeper layers of Shiva and Shakti energy within us, the inner masculine and inner feminine traits take time, and deep devotion. In this fast paced world of instant pleasure, and porn culture, I’m afraid these practices are somewhat lost to most who seek to understand them.
For what modern feminism has sadly become is this man hating, castrating society and then the eventual rise of women in a man made world. Yes women have been oppressed, men have been given some sort of “god given” right to be superior, and the patriarchal societies have been built to oppress that which they come from. Yes all of this is true but what we’ve left out is the third aspect of the union between male and female energy and that is the divine.
Yet we’ve grown up thinking (myself included), that equality means denying our nature, our amazing feminine nature, and distorting it to making women think they are always inferior and men superior. This way of thinking leaves women with the only choice left to them to even the playing field in this distorted world, and that is “to act” like men… which isn’t the fucking point.
If any one is interested in Reading more about Tantra here is a beginner’s guide :
Helen… (illuminated, bright). A name also claiming its roots in the ancient Greek word for moon ( σελήνη) and in Homeric times had added meaning as “the one who is the destroyer of ships”.
It’s all in a name, passed down from generation to generation. And we carry the Helens before us; the ones who paved the way for us; the ones who’s names remain in the history books and the epic fables.
Helen fell in love with King Paris of Troy, causing the beginning of the Trojan War, as her husband Menelaus fought a bitter battle to take back his wife from the Trojans. Helen was known for her unmatched beauty, and grace. Throughout history women carrying this name are powerful, uniting and dividing figures; heroic women, strong women, conniving and beguiling women, and above all controversial women.
It is a name that was handed down to me by my grandmother Eleni. Through her I honor her name and her legacy, and all the other Helens past. We embody history in our given names; they give us character, identity and a cultural connection. Every year I celebrate this given name I aspire to live up to; it brings with it a familial and cultural connection to my birthplace. Oftentimes names are just passed down from grandparents to children in Greek culture; as a nod to lineage and family connection, but most times these names carry a significance we don’t often understand.
Today is a celebration of light.
Cheers Eleni, Helen, Lena, Elena, Eleana.
What does your name say about you?
It’s drawing near… the sun is getting warmer; the skies are bright blue and the air is crisp. Summer is just around the bend. Islands are preparing for the season after a long, harsh lonely winter. The fresh influx of tourists; will bring work and inevitably their income with them. A whole country relies on the summer season to sustain it since tourism is Greece’s biggest ally.
There are plenty of blog posts about summer in Greece. Too many to count, but the side that we locals get to see, the secret side is what keeps us coming back for those precious moments with friends near the sea.
Summer in Greece is not only concentrated on the islands of course; which is sometimes the only thing most visitors either get to or care to see. Athens is not a place to be avoided at all costs. The open air concerts, the festivals, the art, the bars, and the hustle and bustle of the beautiful magical Athenian summer night, can’t be described in words; it must be lived!
Here is my list of 10 things that make a Greek summer complete.
- Go to the beach early, and stay after sun down — always. (on those rare occasions that you sleep at a beach… wake up at dawn and take refreshing morning swim)
- Go with friends, leave with more friends.
- Eat at a small tavern, preferably overlooking the sea. Pick the small unassuming places not the ones featured in Conde Nast Traveler (sorry but it’s true).
- The secret beaches are usually the best ones.
- The secret beaches are the hardest to get to — for that exact same reason.
- Leave your fucking mobile phone off and enjoy the sea, dive in, stay in and live in the moment.
- Athens by night- The capital at summer time is the most beautiful sight to see especially from above… (I’ve featured a picture of this before but I’m going to do it again since I love this shot taken by a dear friend last summer. 7.b See some art, go to galleries, walk around the city and see some up and coming street artists. Go visit some of the theaters in Athens, and see some wonderful dance and theater at the Athens Festival , or go to a play in the ancient Greek theater of Epidaurous .
- Leave your ideas of what you think Greece is at home, and come with an open mind, an open heart and a lot of extra free time, cause we do things slow and at our pace here; so don’t rush us. And above all make sure you see it with the guidance and the eyes of a local. You will miss a lot of you come and leave as a tourist.
- Learn to listen… and use all your senses. The deafening sound of cicadas, on a hot summer day, the sound of the breeze at the top of a mountain overlooking the sea, the sound of coerce sand underneath your feet as you walk on the sea shore, the sound of seagulls flying along with you on a sailboat, the crackling of freshly caught fish on a grill, the taste of real sea salt over a sweet ripe tomato.
- Last but not least. As much as it pains me to say this, and fight me on this particular part. Mykonos (even though I have a home there) especially between the months of July and August, is not Greece. As much as I love that place, summer transforms it into a virtually unrecognizable version of itself. It becomes what tourists want in order for the locals to make as much money off it as possible. Way too much of its market, is targeted towards rich tourists with absolutely no love or understanding for the island itself. Mykonos and Santorini are not the only islands of the Aegean. We have over 2600 of them, of which roughly 200 are inhabited! (dare to take a road less traveled). Explore smaller islands, with less amenities or five star hotels, or all in one spa treatments or expensive sailing boat trips or overpriced gourmet meals. Dare to go to places that are quiet, serene and not about how much money you spent on the same hotel that the Kardashians stayed in. Go on a sailboat and find out about the wonder of the Aegean sea through its secret alcoves and abandoned villages. Eat locally, buy from local shopkeepers and find ways to support the local economy.
Greece despite what the tourist, travel and lifestyle magazines tell you, has a lot more to offer than a western experience with a different language. It is a country with rich traditions and hidden treasures. Island hoping as glamorous as it sounds doesn’t benefit most local economies, and leaves the hotel owners richer and the locals much poorer. So if you want to really explore Greece this summer; visit it as a traveler not as a tourist, and you will experience a much richer country than you might think.
Des mots faciles des mots fragiles
C’était trop beau
–Paroles Paroles by Alain Delon and Dalida
Choose your words wisely.
It’s a matter of principle, it’s a matter of how we see the world and how the world sees us. Even though so much of communication is non verbal; choosing the words we use carefully is of utmost importance. There is an art to knowing what to say and how to say it, and if need be not saying anything at all.
Words matter; they can hurt or they can heal. A lot is revealed by their tone, their phrasing their intent. The more I write, the more I share through both Greek and English; I’m often called upon to sharpen my pencil and my mind. One wrong word and the whole meaning is altered, the whole feel of what is meant to come through is derailed.
Sometimes silence is the only answer.
The words we use for and about others matter. How we describe others, how we talk about them, what energy we share through verbal communication is as sharp and affecting as any weapon. One word can uplift whereas another can dismantle and destroy. How we express ourselves matters; how we speak to others matters, and how we communicate matters, because as words go, lots can be lost in translation.
Words are slippery and deceiving and like little children need guidance and boundaries to thrive and shine on and off the page. Words have weight, they sting and jab, sooth and caress. Each syllable contains an energy; and knowing how to use that energy is as valuable as any amount of currency, because words are also currency.
Even though so much of communication is non verbal; choosing the words we use carefully is of utmost importance.
Recently I had an exchange with an old lover. I was very cautious about how I wanted to respond to his communication. The right words were not appearing to me in order to carefully convey what I wanted to say in response to his contact. I mulled over it for quite some time before I realized that any words I used were a waste of time, energy, and ultimately I would never properly convey verbally what I desperately wanted to say; so I said nothing. Sometimes keeping one’s words to oneself is the wisest choice.
Words matter, words are fragile and delicate and can bend and break after they have been uttered. Words mean nothing; and they mean everything, and sometimes there aren’t enough words to describe a feeling.
So sometimes silence is the only answer.
-What time is it there ?
-I never remember the time difference.
-7 hours difference, it has been my whole life.
Time zones have been a part of my daily life ever since I can remember. My mother would contact her relatives in the United States when we lived in Greece, long before social media of course, or even a steady phone line (for those who remember a time before smart phones). I would call my American grandmother (at great cost for international calls) once a month, and all other communication was with letter writing and post cards. (yes letters; remember those??)
At 14 my parents and I moved to the United States, where maintaining communication with friends and loved ones back in Greece was an exercise not only in keeping up with daily life, but also the Greek language. I distinctly recall my friend sending me spelling corrections in my letters to her when she would reply. (thanks Georgia after all those years).
At 23 I moved back to Athens, and communicated weekly with cell phones and regular calls and emails with my friends in London, Paris and the U.S. I would stay awake in the very late hours (12- 3am) to talk to my friends in New York, and try to catch up as best as we could with cheap international calling cards just to fill each other in on our lives.
Now back in New York with chats, Viber, Whats-app, Facebook messenger, Instagram, time is relative. Time difference almost doesn’t matter. I talk to my close friends after they have put their kids to bed. They stay up for a night cap and a quiet moment, and I text back and forth at 5 am in the morning with my cousins and best friends before I go to work. I live between two time zones, always carving time to connect, talk, share our lives whenever possible.
It’s somewhat easier to stay connected with technology on our side; but still that phone call once a week, once a month, or even once a day; happens between those seven hours difference. I feel like a double agent, calculating, managing time in a split world between the one I live here in New York and the one I live with my friends and family back in Greece. We steal moments from our present lives to share stories, gossip, news, family pictures, and most recently most of my writing here.
What time is it there? 5.30am–
What are you doing up that early??
Taking time to talk with you…
What time zone are you in?