IN CONTINUATION FROM: Pulling The Blade From The Civilized Man– TALES FROM THE WALK BEHIND ME, NO.12
The Miracle Of Creation In The Circle Of Life.
Ah, the circle of life.
This past April, I came home to find a pregnancy test sitting on my laptop, the result was positive. To clarify things here, I wasn’t pregnant, my girlfriend was.
In all the excitement wrapped up with the thought of becoming a parent, one of the first things I thought to myself was just how quickly the coming months will pass us by.
Well, my girlfriend is now entering her third trimester, and the gap between now and the expected due date is quickly closing in. Over the past few weeks, it is becoming increasingly real as her swollen belly is showing obvious signs of life.
What a trip it is to see the workings of creation for myself– Quite truly, a miracle.
I find such interest in how bizarre this thing we call life really is.
The Final Countdown
It’s no secret, physical fitness is extremely important in my life, a cornerstone to what makes me who I am. But as more people hear the news that we are expecting a new born child, I frequently hear them express how my hobbies and physical interests are now, for the lack of better words, over with.
My active lifestyle is soon to be dead and gone.
Apparently, time as it stands is now over. As if I am about to lose full control of my personal priorities and obligations to maintain my own standards.
And though I may share a laugh with them in their lightly expressive tone in humor, the reality is that we have to set a firm intention regarding what kind of example we are to set for our child once born.
How do we do that? Well, we do that through the example of our own patterns of behavior.
Fitness has played such an important role in all aspects of my life. Of course it helps positively contribute to my physical well being, but especially more important is how it has shaped my mental, emotional and spiritual self.
Seeing all and more that it has done for me, I hold it in such high regard.
My introduction to fitness started with my father. As his presence and personality shaped my future, so too will we aim to stress similar values, and instill similar perspectives into raising our child.
Again, we do that by leading in our own example.
So many people have dropped the ball, they have disempowered themselves in their ability to choose their own priorities. Or at least, that is how they make it seem.
“Your Life Is Over; You won’t have time; Say goodbye to the gym; Say Goodbye To Sleep; You’re About To Get Tired And Fat…”
Nah, not me.
I understand this will be a great challenge, which is perfectly okay because challenge is good. But, I have accepted the enduring nature of the work involved in raising a child, and the challenge to do so is something I have embraced in my mind.
Intention Is Everything, Bring it on then!
I’m the dad who’s going to be running with a running buggy. The dad who’s going to be stressing fitness, play, and physical expression. I’m the dad who’s going to encourage that child to dream as big as big can get to help that child become it’s own decision maker in the grand scheme of its life; for the sake of their own story.
I am going to be that dad, because that is what my dad did for me.
He was the example for me in what he valued for himself. And that is important for me to share going forward.
Sure, nobody is perfect, and things can unfold any which way. However, we still need to set our intention alongside the vision we want to build on for ourselves, and the vision we aim to impress on others.
That is something to think about now for the distant future ahead of us.
We must take control now, as we must also always be willing to take control at any moment to help steer our future successes.
For myself, it means thinking about what being a great parent means to me, all while continuously seeking to uphold that standard.
Again, however it unfolds will take adapting to when the time comes, to realign our place in time with the intentional vision we have prioritized.
I can’t Wait, Bring It On!
Let’s move on!
The following is Number 13 of 14 in the series of blog posts called “Tales From The Walk Behind Me”.
If you’re new to these, it is a series of originally journaled entries through a few of my days —events, experiences, thoughts— along the Camino De Santiago.
If you missed part one, here it is — Click Me!
This is my standard cut and paste disclaimer from the tale before, I will give you the bit of warning because it might not be what you expect– my thoughts can be ugly because I’m a weirdo.
Furthermore, the content will vary, and the timelines will be all over the place because my mind loves a wild goose chase.
You also may question my own benevolence as a human being.
The Circle Of Life Continues, Here is no. 13…
“Completo”- Post Camino
Sunday September 29, 2019. Hostel X- Alicante, Spain.
The flood gates have opened; my stomach engorged!
I am eating so much junk. But nothing felt junkier than the four chorizo sausages from the Santiago De Compostela airport express shop. Like damn, hot damn!
I was sleepless to begin with, but ingesting all that pig oil had me stirring on the airport floor in Alicante with heartburn as I burped it back up.
It’s been about 36 hours since, and I’ve gotten some good sightseeing in Alicante today. It is a beautiful city, and I find myself really appreciating life for a change.
Well, that’s all I can say for today at least.
Perhaps it is because the tourists are here openly as tourists; a refreshing change of pace from the Camino, where these tourists aren’t pilgrims hiding behind their pack and shell.
What happened to me this year to have such resentment towards most pilgrims?
I am a pilgrim myself, but I can’t seem the shake the hate. Maybe the glitz and glamour wore off after peering into the world with dead, and dull eyes for so long.
Funny enough, I’m not dead inside. Quite contrary, I feel alive more so than ever, with better clarity too.
On another note, I saw Dimitar while walking my way back to the airport.
With 6km left to complete his Camino to Santiago, I remember how he expressed his own doubts in completing the long road ahead of him due to his own timing issues.
Low and behold, he made it, and I am happy for him.
In quickly catching up with him, it was gratifying to see his expression of how beautiful his journey was. He emphasized how he had gotten to a point along the Camino where he felt time dissolved.
Where he felt pressed for time early on, he was able to find himself letting go of any time constraints holding him back. Once he was able to let go of that pressure, he was able to immerse himself entirely into the experience of the distance.
When people are willing to let go of their burdens, or perceived deterrents, beautiful things happen.
My words are drawn apart, but there is a shit storm a brewing.
It isn’t anything overly drastic either, it’s just life in general. Life is happening and it requires reacting to; Life, is demanding my time.
I’ve been trying to escape people, but they impose anyway. So f*ck it, I’m standing still. People can budge; not me, this is my space!
Sailing Down Memory Lane
Today was different. This evening, I walked up to the X-Hostel terrace to eat my Camino staple: smoked salmon, salad greens, guacamole and bruschetta rusks. Naturally, I had some chocolate cream-filled biscuits leftover, which went down the hatch soon after.
Making my way out to the rooftop terrace, I walked into a conversation between two other guests of the hostel. I wasn’t part of their conversation by any means, but managed to pick up a few of their words along the way. My ears perked up when Greece was mentioned as a location regarding some type of shipwreck, or naval accident.
The speed of thought is something miraculous. Between the seconds of walking out onto the terrace to find my seat at the other end of the rooftop–as far away from the two men in conversation– thoughts, images, and memories flooded my mind.
The little bit I heard was enough to trigger a flashback of memories, all before sitting myself down. Particularly, my mind skirted over the memory of events surrounding the sinking of the Express Samina II.
I didn’t hear their words clearly, but it was enough for my mind to think about that sunken ship in my own history. And though I regret not asking them to confirm my intrigued suspicion, I truly believe that they were distinctly referring to that specific ship in their conversation.
For whatever it was, the circle of life works its way around to remind you.
But Sometimes you just know.
Sometime ago in the early 2000’s, I would wake up to radio chatter coming from an alarm clock radio. It had one rotating dial to slide this tiny tab up and down the numbered trim between stations. It was old-timey and rectangular; a rustic brown hand-me-down.
Surely alarm clock radios are still a thing, but that thing was stuck in time; a simpler time.
That thing was beautiful, how marvelous!
Simple Times, Simple Moments
I recall waking up one morning in particular, my eyes still closed, to hear the radio alarm working its magic:
“Sinking of the Greek ferry cruise liner, the Express Samina 2, has capsized late last night. Many are believed to be missing, and/or presume dead….”
Or something like that.
As with any major accident that is considered to be breaking news, word spread rather quickly between major networks.
If I haven’t divulged this information before, I will do so now:
I am Canadian, born to two full Greek parents. In particular, my mothers side of the family is Icarian, which is why I remember that ship fairly well within the memory of my youth. Growing up, we have taken that specific ferry several times on route to Icaria.
In fact, my sister projectile vomited on me due to sea sickness on board that ferry; what a moment that was. I peered over to find her sticking her tongue out at me, little did I know that I had caught her in that iconic pre-puke gag reflex.
I too was feeling the brunt of the sea, which is why I ignored her the first time.
But the obvious wasn’t obvious to little old me, because I thought she was just being catty. Peering over once more to see her stick her tongue out at me again, I stuck my tongue back at her defiantly.
I thought I was holding my own, until I was doused by her partially digested lunch.
What came next was sheer chaos, as my grandmother and her sisters scrambled to undress me into a new change of clothes.
In reflection, I can appreciate memories like this for both their humor and simplicity. I was eight, or some age close to it, and the only problems I had were coming from a pestering older sibling.
But I got her back, and I was always getting her back. The older I grew, the more I’d retaliate with ridiculous antics of my own.
How funny it is to recall, things we can both look to and laugh over these days.
The Dire NEws
To get back to it, I was old enough with ample history to recognize that name anywhere. Express Samina II, was etched into my brain.
What I remember most is an old tabletop game in the arcade section of the ship, which was really just a corner. I was mesmerized by that game, but never made the effort to play it. Usually, I was too damn seasick myself to think twice about it once the ship started sailing; the sea always roughest around the Icarian sea.
“Oh shit”, I murmured, stretching myself awake with the concluding transmission.
Despite that most of my extended family lives in Greece, I was still young enough to feel that it was a whole other world away; it was somewhere forever away. Seeing it as I did then, I didn’t think much more about the disaster past that morning. I was totally ignorant of any possibility that might affect me, or my family in any way.
But coming home for supper revealed the bigger picture. With my mother’s increasing state of stress, I quickly realized how much smaller that world was than I’d made it out to be.
The World Grows Smaller Everyday
As the following days unfolded new information, I learned that my mom’s uncle was on board that ship; Uncle Michael, or theo Mixali (Me-ha-lee) is how we knew him. I met him once myself, but I was too young to recall any details accurately.
A retired naval man, his experience compelled him to stay back with the quickly sinking ship, boldly guiding others towards some form of solace in those dire moments.
Who can say what really happened amidst the chaos and drowning of the deep. But, that was the story I was told, and it’s how he is remembered.
He was missing for days, but his death was eventually confirmed with the retrieval of his body from the waters of the Mediterranean. I can’t remember exactly how long it was, the timeline blurred between recovering and identifying. Either way, it took a while to get any news of confirmation regarding his whereabouts at the time.
The circumstances behind the disaster was unfortunate, and controversial; Bad weather, ship malfunction, bad logistics, crew procrastination, lack of protocol, and more.
It was claimed that some of the ship’s superior officers and crew were first to abandon the vessel, which goes against the valiant oaths they take to serve. The facts here are likely skewed in my memory, but that was the expressed story to recall at the time.
Worse For Wear: Unfolding Circumstances Of Controversy
Family is close-knit in Greece, and news of theo Mixali’s death rocked the boat pretty hard. But to bring the controversy home, the family did not mention the news to my great grandmother; that she had just lost her son. Theo Mixali’s mother; my mother’s grandmother; my great grandmother; yiayia Kalliopi (grandma Calliope), was well into her 80’s when her son was lost to the sea.
Theo Mixali’s siblings –my mother’s mother and her sisters— felt that it would be better for her to avoid knowing her son’s fate out of fear that melancholy of the truth would kill her. Instead, yiayia Kalliopi was subjected to believe that he was out travelling anytime she inquired.
She was around 96 years old when she finally passed— oblivious to the truth for nearly a decade. She had her hunches, as any mother would, that something had happened to her son. The truth omitted under good intentions; better to be alienated and alive with no contact, then it is to break the news of death from one mother to another.
That’s the way life goes sometimes; good intentions can cause just as much suffering. If it were up to me, the band-aid would have been ripped right off, how unnecessarily exhausting to build a reality out of lies.
Either way, people do funny things for the sake of love.
As far as today went, I made my way through that conversation across the rooftop terrace, took my seat, and proceeded to eat my dinner.
Moments later, my phone buzzed. It was a message from my sister; the notification on my home screen read:
“Hey, I got news today that papou (grandpa)…”
I knew what the message was hinting at without reading into it further. Oddly enough, the news was expected, as I felt my mind was primed to think of these things–Icaria, Greece, ships, family, death— as soon as I walked into that rooftop conversation.
I opened the message to read it in detail, my mother’s father, my grandfather, has passed away.
The Circle Of Life and Everyday
Like theo Mixali, my grandfather was also a naval man. But by now, he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for some time in his slow, but steady decline. For the sake of keeping close to medical services, it meant staying on the mainland in Athens sometimes, skipping out of going to the family home in Icaria.
This year however, they decided to go. And up to the point in getting this immediate news regarding his death, the circumstances were more appeasing, satisfying, and peaceful.
That morning, he took his final dip into the sea, and made his way home to take in the beautiful balcony view. He laid down for the usual mid-day nap, and that was that.
That’s life, and that’s death, and it’s just another part of our life circles.
We wake and live to rise with the sun, and lay to sleep with the dark of the night, bearing evidence to the circle of life through its simplest processes. And though there is feeling in that, which makes the process hard or confusing, the circle still lives and dies with every day, and every night.
Rest In Peace Papou.