I don’t know about you, but when I think about Greece, my brain conjures up images of sandy beaches, beautiful women, great poets and philosophers, all amidst the backdrop of the most magnificent ancient ruins one ever did see. Truth be told, reality isn’t quite as one would expect. As with Santa or the tooth fairy, we fail to see in absolutes and fail to see the shades of grey. At least, that’s what I learned as I sat on a ferry for twenty hours, stranded in Crete in the dead of winter with a large storm looming overhead.
Before I’d set off on my trip to Greece I’d read that it gets astonishingly dreary during the winter. I took it to be an exaggeration, as when I went in the rainy season to the Yucatan Peninsula. There’d been some bad days, but for the most part the weather had been extraordinary. Nevertheless, Greece becomes a veritable ghost town in the winter, it was eery having a medieval city to yourself, as happened in Rhodes. You walk down the streets, and the only people to keep you company were the ghosts of the past. It sorta felt like the zombie films, where we have our main protagonist walking the empty streets with nary a living soul in sight.
Imagine my surprise then when my hermit streak was interrupted with a three way conversation between two other random people on the boat. I’d been on a Frasier and Vikings show marathon, so it was jarring to say the least. However, give people long enough time, and they’ll start a conversation. Especially now, our ferry had been delayed because another one of the same company had gone up in flames, and our boat didn’t look a lot more promising either, as the gasoline fumes had accidentally been syphoned into the cafeteria due to a mechanical failure.
We hit it off soon enough, both were from the same island, but they’d only met there on the ferry. The first one of the new acquaintances was a man with a very gruff exterior, with a confidence to match. He always had an old camera slung around his neck, that had been a gift from his father; he’d seen the world, he’d seen wars, and seen beautiful sights as well, even the camera had seen some action as once he’d used it to pummel a guy who tried to mug him, after which he jumped on a train that was about to leave so as to avoid questioning.
The second was a very sweet woman, she was somewhat mousy and very meek but she had one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. She offered to share her packed meal with us, which we gladly accepted. Greek food is astoundingly good, yet very simple, rarely do you see any fancy sauces or anything of the sort. The simplicity is its appeal, it’s sort of the feeling you get from seeing a woman who’s naturally beautiful without having to spend hours working on herself to look stunning. After a while the storm got worse and we ended up moving camp to somewhere more amenable.
Our cameraman ended up looking for somewhere to nap, so I was left talking with the girl. It sorta dawned on me that I could speak my mind completely. So I decided to just speak the absolute truth, if I thought something and I thought it was worth saying, I’d say it. It was quite a liberating experience, as I realized that we always live with barriers between each other, as we try to play Machiavellian schemes on each other. Problem is, everyone knows this, so everyone is doubly uneasy interacting with other people.
Consequently, if you say exactly what’s on your mind, some people will truly connect with you. This won’t necessarily work though, and some people will hate you. Nevertheless, the friends you make by being your true self are much greater than pretending to be someone you aren’t and befriending them. I realized this, as she seemed to be engulfed in my every word. It was quite extraordinary, I’d never seen anything of the sort.
I talked about my passions, life, my life philosophy, and at times my inner demons. She just kept asking for more and more. Usually, I’m nowhere near as willing to disclose so much about myself in so little time, but as the connection was good, and I was never gonna see her again I went the full mile. I captivated my audience as never before, because of my willingness to just allow myself to be. After a couple of hours, the conversation fizzled out, as we’d been awake for almost a day, and we both went to sleep on our chairs.
In the end, I woke up with a note besides me. It turns out that her stop had arrived whilst I was asleep, and she didn’t want to wake me up. I’ve attached it below. In either case, because of this whole situation I learned the value of being oneself, rather than trying to play games. Since trying it on more people, I’ve learned it’s an amazingly polarizing. Whether people like or dislike you, is irrelevant when doing this, as they are reacting to how you truly are, and there is a certain happiness in just being able to be oneself, unlike anything else, and that, my friends, is what’s important.
It’s been so great talking with you! I feel grateful for meeting someone as kind, gentle, honest, hard-working, sensitive as you. My innerfelt wish is that you find what your soul desires and that you are happy, despite all the problems the suffering and the dead ends of life. In a bizarre way I do think that it is actually possible and I wish it to you with all my heart. Best of luck with your travels. I hope that you’re taking good memories from Greece in your backpack… Have a fantastic, awesome, amazing, exciting year!
Best wishes, Maria“