One Simple Lesson For A Happy Life

In Travels with Epicurus, subtitled A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life, the following story was told by the author Daniel Klein, who learned it had been told by Aegean islanders for a long time.

A prosperous Greek American was visiting one of the Aegean islands one day when “he comes upon an old Greek man sitting on a rock, sipping a glass of ouzo, and lazily staring at the sun setting into the seas. The American notices there are olive trees growing on the hills behind the old Greek, but that they are untended, with olives just dropping here and there onto the ground. He asks who the trees belong to.

“They’re mine,” the Greek replies.

“Don’t you gather the olives?” the American asks.

“I just pick one when I want one,” the old man says.

“But don’t you realize that if you pruned the trees and picked the olives at their peak, you could sell them? In America everybody is crazy about virgin olive oil, and they pay a damned good price for it.”

“What would I do with the money?” the old Greek asks.

“Why, you could build yourself a big house and hire servants to do everything for you.”

“And then what would I do?

“You could do anything you want.”

“You mean, like sit outside and sip ouzo at sunset?”

The above story is not unlike the old adage about stopping to smell the roses. If you are young, ambitious, want the big house and servants you are unlikely to take the advice. It is only the elders among us, who realize that sitting on the beach at sunset, drinking wine, watching the sun set, that truly appreciate what life offers. Simple pleasures are the great rewards, bringing peace and serenity. Stay calm, enjoy.

Skol!

 

 

Cortes, Burning Ships, Excuses, Writing goals

In Roger Van Oech’s book A Whack on the side of the Head, a book on how to be creative that is still going strong since it was published in 1983, he writes something I did not know about the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes that is, shall we say disarming.

When Cortes landed his ships at Veracruz he burned all his ships. He did this to eliminate one option, leaving his men with only two. You either fight, he told them, or you die. Going home was no longer an option.

Van Oech writes “Sometimes it takes more creativity to get rid of the excuses we put in the way than it does to come up with the idea in the first place.”

I must admit I am guilty of using excuses to get in the way of writing and my excuses are very creative, along the lines of the kid who told his teacher, “The dog ate my homework.”

Cortes took away an excuse about whether to fight or not. His men really had no choice. I suppose I could burn my house down and write at the library with my laptop, but that option would not solve the problem as I would still find more excuses, then have to burn down the library.

The thing of it is, we procrastinators, we excuse makers, know we are avoiding what we should be doing. We are not fooling ourselves.

Van Oech asks the question of what three factors will make it difficult for you to reach your objective? How can you get rid of excuses?

Getting rid of excuses requires self discipline. Take Map Quest or any other app that gives your destination with directions. You follow them-and if they are correct, not always the case-you arrive at your destination. In the process of reaching your destination you took each turn along the path.

Perhaps each writer, or anyone with a goal, should create a type of map with a starting point, an end destination, then fill in the steps to take in order to reach the goal. And if, like the occasional misinformation on the directional map, you run into a burning ship, you adjust and continue your journey; you either fight the fight or your goals die.

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