My trip back to Greece was uneventful although the security in the large airport from which I departed the USA was tighter than usual. As a wise man reminded me, “These are the signs of the times we live in.” So true. And yesterday we all said goodbye to another wise man, Gore Vidal–writer, critic and general thorn in the side of anyone he felt needed a sharp poke as a reminder of their mortality and insignificance. I have a feeling that he and Marcus Aurelius would have been good friends, cynics both–grumblers concerning the state of the world–and brighter stars in what can often be a dull firmament.
It was a pleasure and a relief to arrive back in Greece even though I have had to leave dear friends and family behind. Such is my current path. PAGE Literary and Art Journal is going to print and the files have been sent to the printers. The only remaining task is to choose the paper stock for the cover and interior pages. This is a hands-on job so I will not be taking care of that responsibility. It is a very pretty publication, with relevant articles, both new and republished, and interesting work from the artists in that microcosm of the Northeast. With that behind me I have returned to Paros and I am happy to be back. My visit to the USA was so short it feels surreal to walk down the narrow streets of this port town, now more crowded with tourists, feel the heat of the Greek sun and hear the ancient familiar music of the Greek language. It is as if I had never left, yet I have the jetlag to prove it. I have work to do here before I leave for Italy in a few weeks so I will be busy and I am looking forward to that. For me idle hands are the devil’s playground. In short, I need to have work to do and some structure to my life, a schedule of some kind. People to see, places to go, things to do. Then I can rest.
Today’s (2 August) reading from ‘ A Year with Emerson’ is appropriate since I am back here and in contact with my teachers, mentors and those who would guide me. When he was thirty years old Ralph wrote a letter to his Aunt Mary and gave a description of his ideal teacher. He wrote, “God’s greatest gift is a teacher & when will he send me one, full of truth & boundless benevolence & heroic sentiments. I can describe the man, & have done so already in prose and verse. I know the idea well, but where is its real blood warm counterpart…I may as well set down what our stern experience replies with the tongue of all its days. Son of man, it saith, all giving & receiving is reciprocal; you entertain angels unawares, but they cannot impart more or higher things than you are in a state to receive. But every step of your progress affects the intercourse you hold with all others; elevates its tone, deepens its meaning, sanctifies its spirit, and when time & suffering & selfdenial [sic] shall have transformed and glorified this spotted self, you shall find your fellows also transformed & their faces shall shine upon you with the light of wisdom & the beauty of holiness.”
“You entertain angels unawares…” How lovely. We are only ready to receive that which we are ready to understand. In a way he is reminding me to remain open to the ideas around me, to not shut myself off from the “sunlight of the spirit” and to look keenly into the eyes of those who know. I must admit that I cannot say much else after that. That’s alright. I think Emerson, Vidal and Old Aurelius would agree. As a parting shot I would like to introduce a circular idea I have been mulling for the past few months: learn, practice, teach.