Today is overcast on the island of Corfu in Greece. After three weeks of bright blue skies and sun, I am welcoming these clouds with open arms. Even in this paradise, I had started to yearn for the Gulf Coast summer days of voluptuous clouds, and theatrical rainstorms. I’ve been dreaming of the sound of thunder that shakes your house, and that sticky, balmy air that remains even when the streets are full of water.
“The so simple is the best,” my friend Spiros says while sipping on a beer.
This simple pronouncement was due to the amazing day we had had. There is a perfect beach spot, down from Agios Gordios, where now remains a refugee ship that beached there almost two years ago.
When the boat was first discovered, in November 2013, I was staying with Spiros and his family. One morning, from the balcony of his house, we were able to see the mysterious boat. Several weeks later, the story reached Corfu that the ship had come from North Africa and had met another boat out in the Ionian Sea. This transfer was meant to take the people to Italy. However, the port police had intercepted the new boat…this is the entire story that I know.
So, two years later the boat remains. There is not the money or proper equipment to move it. So it stays.
Spiros and I really enjoy this spot because there are very few people, the water is cleaner, and the restaurant Black Rocks is just close enough to walk down to buy some ouzo. There is obviously stress in Greece at the moment, but what I have been reminded every time I visit my Greek friends here on Corfu is that “stress” is unproductive.
Remember this statement from a previous blog?
“Medora, look something, the sun he does not have the crisis. The sea, he does not have the crisis. The tree, the mountain, no crisis.” Then wiping his hands as if brushing off imaginary dirt, “This is so.”
I’ve been thinking so much about this mentality. Yes, people are struggling. Things are hard right now for work, for money. However, then I look at this abandoned ship, that at some point was overflowing with people. Women, children, families. Whatever was happening in their world was so challenging that they risked everything to be taken to a place that is ALSO in crisis. What does that say about their predicament?
The contradictions I’ve been experiencing in how to follow The Greek Program (the sun, the sea, don’t worry, be happy), with the image of the wrecked ship that at one time held hope and a possible solution for so many desperate human beings and now constitutes an in-my-face emblem of the pains of the world outside of this island, have been very perplexing and exhausting.
Spiros, as always, is right; the simple is the best. Instead of feeling powerless, lazy, not living up to my full potential, and not taking full advantage of my birth right, my education, my finances….I have to give into some naïve faith. I have to appreciate all the small things, those very things people were willing to get on a boat to try to find, that sustain the Greek people during this time of crisis, and in the end are what are not just essential for survival but what make our lives truly rich and meaningful.
So, for now, I am surrounded by amazing people, old friends, my family, and I want to allow myself to enjoy the so simple.