live with your rags

I’ve just finished reading Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi – one of the finest travelogues ever. It chronicles Miller’s year out travelling around Greece just as World War ll broke. He describes Greece with such fondness.

6c4e57a2d89e11e1b5561231380f91a6 7 live with your rags

It echoes where I’m at. I’ve been to Greece three times now – the first time was 20 years ago. I had no money and I hitchhiked all over. Old men on the islands gave me food. I hiked. I swam. I ate. I was 18 and lost and philosophical and seeking life. I came, again, 10 years ago, with my partner at the time. He’s Greek-Australian – from Kythera – and the experience was much the same. No, the sensation was the same.

Each time I’m here I feel a pounding connection. Like the place grabs me from my insides and says, “Hey, sit down a while. You’ve arrived safely.”

What is it exactly about the place?

It’s the light. It’s honest and raw. And the smells. The wild thyme, fig trees and mountain herbs, the brine of the sea, the dry-earthiness of the heat hitting dust and rock. It stirs something inside, something that yearns to be freed and expressive. And yet it doesn’t demand the expression. You can just sit quietly with it.

It says, “this is how life is meant to be”. This is why history is preserved here and the Greek ethos remains unmoved: life arrived and stayed.

Millar’s reflections on Greece very much mirror my own. He arrived in Athens in a heat wave and during a time of incredible poverty; the day I stepped into Syntagma Square it was 47 degrees. The country has just had a whopping 40 per cent cut to wages and families are starving all over the country. Miller was taking time out from writing for the first time in years; ditto me. Miller travelled with few possessions, ditto me.

“I’m glad I arrived in Athens in during that incredible heatwave,” he wrote. “Glad I saw it under the worst

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