Remember to just, be
Updated: Mar 14, 2019
Every day, my husband Ilias gets up at the crack of dawn and heads off to his farm. Besides the garden that is overflowing with strawberries, zucchinis and tomatoes at this time of year, he also tends to a few sheep, a small herd of goats, and a couple of pigs, rabbits, chickens and even some geese. In the evening he goes back to the farm for their end of day feed and to make sure all is well.
It doesn’t happen often, but last week Ilias was running late so I went to the farm to help him. My version of being a “farm hand” is helping to pick the odd piece of fruit, like filling a bucket of strawberries or bringing back some fresh herbs like sage and thyme to cook with, or collecting the eggs and patting the animals. I only put my hand up for the “good and easy jobs”.
When the weather is good Ilias has the goats in a pasture where there is plenty of grazing and trees for shade. On this particular afternoon, the weather looked like it might rain so he thought it best to move the goats to another area where they have decent shelter. Without a moment of thought, Ilias opened the gate to let them out and told me to lead them towards the shelter.
“What? Me lead them?” I said.
I knew I wasn’t quite cut out for solid farm work, but he gave me a bag of corn, and like moths to a flame, the goats scurried around me, the lambs fighting their way around their mothers, bleating, trying to get their heads into the bag of corn. I found myself taking on the role of “Nas village shepherd.”
The goats and I walked the pine-tree lined path to the other pasture to get them settled for the night. I fed them by hand all the way, and like a group of small children, they seemed to get used to me and settle quickly. By now the sun was almost gone and the sky was streaked with pink and orange. Even though the farm is close to the restaurant, its setting on the other side of Nas is very different. You can see the sea through the pine trees; and feel the silence as if you were deep in the forest, with the smell of pine and fresh herbs all around. I took in the sunset and breathed in the fresh forest-like air, and decided I was ready to leave. I had things to do – run back to the restaurant, and get the menus ready for dinner.
My husband, however never has this issue and is never in any hurry to leave. He made himself comfortable under a pine tree and told me to sit down. “Now?” I asked, “Really? you want me to sit down and relax here in the dark, I have to get back to the restaurant, we’re going to be full tonight,” I said.
I was feeling uneasy and I realised that the city girl in me that grew up in America still pokes her head out every so often.
But I accepted his invitation, (he wouldn’t take no for an answer) and sat next to him, and he said, “Don’t talk, don’t move or think, just listen, what do you hear?”
I sat down and made myself as comfortable as I could, sitting amongst the pinecones and rocks, just as he instructed. I took in a few deep breaths and after a few moments, I was only aware of the goats, the birds making nests for the evening, the breeze through the pines and the faint sound of the waves crashing below. I have always loved those moments at dusk living here on the island. But I realised it had been weeks since I had taken a moment to take it in and just enjoy it – to just sit and be. To let everything go and be in that particular moment, with nowhere else to go. There was no thought about the restaurant opening, the orders I had to take, or the planning I had to do for tomorrow’s groups coming to stay.
Ikarians have a great knack for this – being able to truly connect with the present moment, without always worrying about the future. It doesn’t make a difference about the circumstance, we could be having coffee with a friend, working in the garden or the kitchen, and we will live that moment in its fullest, knowing when it’s gone, its gone for good. “Why worry about tomorrow when we have today?”
I have always loved this philosophy, because it encapsulates what comes so naturally to Ikarians, yet even after living here for so long, I often find that I have to consciously stop, take a breath, shake off my busy mind and do what Ikarians do here so intuitively. How often do you find yourself doing one thing while thinking of the next thing on your plate? Or sitting at a party worrying about the work you have to finish tomorrow? In those moments, I always remind my guests when they get back home, to “think Ikarian” –live in this moment, enjoy the present - the future will be here soon enough.