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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wisdom from Zorba:

Live Life

You can knock on a deaf man's door forever.”
Nikos Kanzantzakis (Zorba the Greek)

If you are of a certain age, you may remember the film, Zorba the Greek, in which Anthony Quinn, as Zorba, tries to teach Alan Bates, as Basil, how to really live his life, rather than thinking endlessly about how it ought to be. Basil is a writer, or tries to be, but is too blocked and timid to actually do the things that Zorba suggests. While Basil is toiling away over his books and papers, Zorba is working hard to experience everything that life has to offer. He tells Basil, “All those who actually live the mysteries of life haven't the time to write, and all those who have the time don't live them.” I can relate.

Like Basil, most of us have an idea in our heads about how life ought to proceed. We have a template that includes the time-line for all the markers---work, marriage, children, grandchildren, retirement. We plan and save and save and plan, and always the unexpected happens. We lose a job, we lose a relationship, our children grow up and move away. We feel disappointed, even depressed, that life doesn't go the way we want, and that disappointment colors our days.

Zorba takes life on its own terms. He wins, he loses, he succeeds, he fails, all the same. He relishes his food and his lovers, and he toils at his work like a mule. When love presents itself, he takes it; when it departs, he grieves and then moves on. He lives light on his feet without possessions to weigh him down. When he can't find the words to express himself, he dances wildly on the sandy Cretan beach. At one point he tells Basil, “You have everything but one thing: madness. A man needs a little madness or else—he never dares to cut the rope and be free.”

I'm not suggesting that we fling caution to the wind, abandon our jobs and spouses and go live on a beach in Crete. I am suggesting that we learn to take ourselves and our lives a little less seriously. When we need help doing that, we might just kick off our shoes and dance madly.

                                                                In the Spirit,

1 comment:

Charles Kinnaird said...

I remember Zorba the Greek airing on TV when I was a kid -- maybe 6th grade, maybe ninth grade -- but it was late at night and I didn't have any clue or interest in such cinematic drama at that stage of my life. I have thought on occasion that I should see it, especially after learning more about Kanzantzakis. Now you remind me that I must find that film and watch it/