Greek Reflections – What Insights I Took Home With Me.

I have been back from my Greece trip for more than a week now, and there are different things that have risen to the top in terms of impact.

1 – I was impressed with the amount of accessible greenspace in the city of Athens. It was easy to trail run, hike, and escape the traffic without much effort at all. That’s the kind of city I can get down with.

2 – The beautiful disparity between the works of art.  You see ruins or classic works of art on seemingly every block, yet the city is also permeated with modern graffiti. Sure, some is tacky and basic tagging, but so many other graffiti works of art were incredibly beautiful, embodied commentary on the current political state, or were laced with optimism.

3 – Simplicity. This is probably the piece of my Greek trip that stuck with me the most, specifically on the island of Naxos. In my hotel room I had a small refrigerator where I kept some fruit, fresh carrots, and water. I also had a bag of pistachios and some Special K bars. It was very basic, but it was all I needed.

In the morning I would wake up and do whatever I felt like. Some days it was a 3 hour breakfast at a café next to the sea while I wrote. Other days it was a stroll down the meandering alleys where the locals lived.

Any time I was away from my hotel I didn’t have internet access on my phone so instead I became more present. I’d notice the smell of the sea, put effort into saying ‘yassas’ to people that walked past me, and enjoy the texture of the Greek yogurt and fruit I’d have with my morning coffee.

I could breathe, I could think clearly, and I felt creative every single day.

Upon coming home I quickly noticed how I instantly filled my world up with distraction all over again.

I complain about Facebook, but yet check it more often than I care to admit. Instead of waking up slowly and choosing the direction of my day, I grab my phone and see what happened on Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat… Even while I do it I think back to the simplicity of that little island and how much I enjoyed consciously choosing how I spent my day versus filling it with arbitrary things like seeing where someone is checking in to dinner, or watching another cute puppy video.

What happened when I filled in all my white space with arbitrary time wasters? My creativity and psychic bandwidth dried up. 

distraction

This weekend I have a little getaway planned where I’ll be staying in a beautiful cabin far off the grid in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin.  This is the perfect time to delete my social media apps off my phone and get back to simple. I can allow my mind to wander and get creative.

I am looking forward to bringing my Naxos simplicity to the next few days by really being present during my time with my person, engaging all my senses while walking the trails near the cabin with him, and even focusing while we watch the Badger football game in a divey bar Saturday night.

These kinds of simple, quiet times are when I do my best thinking, and when I am my most creative.  I think Steve Jobs summed this up perfectly when he said “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

If there’s two things we as humans are good it, it’s making simple things ridiculously complicated, and being ‘busy’ while wearing that label as some badge of honor. It  may be ambitious to start tackling this in December when we all seem to fall into the habit of announcing how stressed we are, and boo hoo we have so many things scheduled on our calendars. But hey, the bigger the challenge the better the payoff.

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