Carnival in Rethymno – Creta

Every year for carnival, I visit a different part of Greece to see the local customs, as they differ from place to place. This time round, I chose the city of Rethymno in the island of Creta. We arrived, by boat,  in the early morning hours in the city of Chania. We couldn’t have had a better start, with a stroll around the old town and its port, all wrapped up in the colours of the rising sun including the mountains which were filled with snow on the background.chania

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Then, we went on to the town of Rethymno, a beauty of its own right; it was all in carnival mode. Some say that the city hosts the biggest carnival parade in the whole of Greece. All I know is that I witnessed a sea of people dressed in colourful costumes that came in waves of diverse themes. It lasted for hours and I couldn’t stop waching them under the blue, blue skyes:

 

 

The following day we visited the Arkadi monastery, which is designated by UNESCO as a World Freedom Monument. In 1866, Ottoman armies laid siege to the monastery where 700 children and women and 260 Cretan warriors  had barricated themselves refusing to surrender. After a two day siege, they blew themselves up in the gunpowder building of the monastery and this became the most important event of the Cretan history.

We left for last the visit to a one-year old museum  of Ancient Eleftherna and the nearby pittoresque village of ” Margarites”

Creta is an inexhaustible world of its own; like all good things in life, one has to take it in chunks to allow oneself to enjoy every bit of it!

A spider by my eye

“Take this spider away from me” I shouted, with horror, to my friend as I was trying to get rid of a black spider which was climbing up and down my right eye. He rushed to my side; he saw nothing. I kept following the spider movements with my finger. But my friend couldn’t help me. I started shaking my whole body to make the spider go away. Alas, we soon realized that the spider was created by my eye, an illusion that only I could see! I went to bed, expecting that all will be fine by the following morning.

But the spider was still there, as active as ever! So, I went to the ophthalmologist. After an extensive examination, I was diagnosed with “Posterior Vitreous Detachment”, an eye problem where the gel inside the eye shrinks and detaches from the retina. “It comes with age” the doctor told me! For a month, I am neither allowed to carry any heavy weight, nor to put any pressure on my body or bend it! No swimming either! We hope that the detachment process will go smooth and that I will be back to being able to do all I love to do!

For the moment, I am happy I can still see the beauty around me and appreciate it even more than ever, even if a little spider is around my corner!

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Α letter about birth and death

It’s been a few years now, that I take Philosophy lessons. This is my way of getting food for thought for life’s essential questions. I remember, the first day I went to class, how surprised I was to find out that the course would be taking place in the university’s “Applied Mathematics and Physics” building. Philosophy was part of this Division’s curriculum! Until then, I believed that Philosophy and Sciences had nothing in common; actually that they even contradicted and fought each other! Now, I have realized that they walk hand in hand -and that one starts where the other one ends.

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The text below, although difficult to grasp in all its detail,  demonstrates this. It is an extract from a letter written in the 1st century A,C, , by the philosopher Apollonius to the king Valerius:

“There is no death of anyone, save in appearance only, even as there is no birth of anyone or becoming,  except only in appearance. The change from essence into nature we consider it birth or becoming, and in the same way,  the change from  nature into essence seems to be death; though in truth, no one is ever born, nor does one ever die.  It is simply a being visible and then invisible; the former through the density of its matter , and the latter because of the subtlety  of being – being which is ever the same, its only change being motion and rest.

For being has this necessary pecularity, that its change is brought about by nothing external to itself; but whole becomes parts and parts become whole in the oneness of the all/universe. And if someone asks: What is this which sometimes is seen and sometimes not seen, now in the same, now in the different? It might be answered that it is the way of everything here in the world below, that when it is filled out with matter, it is visible, because of the resistance  of its density, but is invisible, owing to its subtlety, when it is rid of matter, though matter still surround it and flow through it, in that immensity of space which hems it in, but knows no birth or death.”

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Feeding the trees and …myself

All my professional life, I spent it in an office, in the services sector. That means that I neither had to  produce anything with my hands, nor to hold, touch, move, turn around, squeeze or transform a tangible product. Ididn’t have to make my hands “dirty” as I had no link to nature –  the view from my office was mostly concrete buildings – with the exception of the Acropolis at my last employer.

For 5 years already, I am far away from all that; I am close to nature and can no longer imagine a day in my life without being close to the soil, fields, trees, mountains, rivers, the sea. By now, I have developed a great admiration and respect for all that has to do with the environment, the land and the organic agriculture. I have learned to pay more attention to the seasons and to understand what they mean in terms of the earth’s production cycle: for example, the olive harvest season has just ended; now, I’ve learned, is the time to give food to the olive trees.

So, when the opportunity came, to take part in it, I literally jumped on it! First, I jumped on my car, to follow the tractor to get to one of the fields where a huge pile of organic fertilizer was unloaded.  With the use of a shovel and a bucket, we filled a container – which was attached to the tractor – with the fertilizer. I used the bucket to do it. Then, we had to drive the tractor (and the container) to the various olive fields. Some were easy to reach, others – which were on the steep side of the mountains – were much harder to access.

We gave food to each olive tree with no exception – no matter how far, difficult to reach or small it was.  A parent doesn’t make any distinction among his children and leaves noone unattended :-).  As I got more involved and fully integrated with the nature around me, I let each tree guide me how much food it needed: whether half a bucket, one or two.  Just like a baby would do! The feeling of interacting with them and “talking” together was unique!

It took us a couple of days of hard, hard physical work to finish all the trees.  But whatever fatigue I got, was offset by the “pschycological food” I got: being in nature (which has already given me my life) and nurturing it, with my own hands, so that it keeps on producing additional, healthy life! What a pleasure and privilege 🙂

 

How to grow old

In my mind, a New Year brings new opportunities, new experiences, the possibility to do new things. But, it also brings an extra year on our shoulders that adds to our inevitable mortality!

Oh!How shall one deal with growing old? The philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote about it, in his essay below: “How to Grow Old”:

The best way to overcome the fear of death – so at least it seems to me – is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually, the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue.  And if, with the decay of vitality, weariness increases, the thought of rest will not be unwelcome.  I should wish to die while still at work, knowing that others will carry on what I can no longer do and content in the thought that what was possible has been done.

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New Year’s resolution

My dear friends, for the New Year that is about to enter, I wish to borrow the quote from William Burroughs (american writer and visual artist):

” One resolution I have made , and try to keep, is this: To rise above little things”

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