Lessons from Zorba

I love words, so I guess it is only natural that I also love books. Not only do I love the weight, texture, feel and smell of books, I do actually enjoy reading them, too! I thought I should clarify that, because some people are weird in that they like something but never do anything with that thing. Kind of like comic book collectors who amass a grand collection in plastic, sterile sleeves without ever opening the covers to read the pages. In a small way, I can appreciate that reluctance to misuse something considered precious, but I am also a practical person who doesn’t have the luxury of possessing treasures for the sake of merely owning them. I love my treasures by using them.

On the recommendation of my chiropractor, last week I picked up a copy of Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. I am maybe a quarter of the way through it, but I am quite enjoying it. My chiropractor thought that I would be able to identify with the protagonist. Already I think I can see why he would say that, but I need to finish the book before finalizing those thoughts.

I frequently underline, highlight and write in interesting and thought-provoking non-fiction books (my own copies, of course); however, that isn’t something I usually do with fiction. The Shack might be the only time I have done so with a fiction book before Zorba. Two things stand out so far.

“The crow in question walked around at first properly, correctly, as a crow should. But one day it took it into its head to walk like a partridge, swaggering. From that time on the poor thing forgot its own method of walking, lost it, and now-can’t you see?-it moves by hopping on one foot.”

Did you catch that? Does it resonate within you the way it does within me? Here is my take on it…be yourself! Don’t try to impersonate someone else, thinking that they are better than you and therefore you need to be like them, because you are uniquely you and no one else can be you better. Trying to be something you are not is going to make your life miserable, and you might even forget who you really are along the way. Trust me, I know from experience.

“As I get older I become wilder, by God. Why do people sit there and keep telling me that old age tames a person, makes him lose his zest, stretch out his neck when he sees death and say, ‘Slaughter me, please, dear agha, so that I may become a saint’? As for me, as I get older I become wilder. I don’t quit. I want to eat up the whole wide world.”

I am not so old that I am thinking about death, but I am of an age, I think, that some might consider as being old enough to settle down, to lose my zest, to become tame and settled. This is not how I feel at 44 years of age, and I cannot imagine ever feeling that way at any age. Those who know me might well say that I am becoming wilder with age, and this is true. I do not want to quit. I do want to devour the whole wide world, or at least as much as I am able. My theme for 2016 is Alive. I want to live life to the fullest, to enjoy the opportunities before me, to love the people who are in my life, and to take all of that love and joy I have inside and radiate it outwards. That’s not a complicated task at all, and yet it is incredibly rewarding. Truly, I think it is simply living instead of merely existing. I’ve existed long enough; I want to live.

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