Back then, Greece was to me beautiful but dark and mysterious, a place where my brother's wit proved problematic for the cash-hungry taxi drivers. But since I now live, broadly speaking, in the region, I felt some kind of fraternity in Greece, as if we were united in φιλοκαλία; which means love of the beautiful. "Beautiful" in this region is a particular approach to life which is the essence of serendipity: it is not direct, and heaven forbid if you have a goal and want to execute it immediately.
The φιλοκαλία is also an Orthodox Christian spiritual text, about a way of being: how to attain that way of being, through prayer and mindfulness. And true to the spirit of this place, the text is not meant to be read at once - nor is it to be read alone, without the guidance of a spiritual elder.
Knowledge or information is thus not to give us power (as the modern world would have it, you can watch Episode 4 of Everything is a Remix to see what I mean). Rather, it is meant to help us in our way of being in the world, which is at once loving and mysterious. "The stars are beautiful because of a flower that cannot be seen," says the Little Prince.
Given the rich philosophy of The Little Prince, months passed before I decided how to use the notebook. I finally decided for it to be a repository of hopeful ideas, like: creativity as antidote to fear.
That thought is not my own, but something I heard on this fantastic radio show called On Being (learned of here). The show asks questions like, how do we restore meaning to words like love and friendship? In the interview with John O'Donohue, he says that if we offer each other the spirit of love and friendship, we will be less and less exposed to pressure zones. He also says that true friends are those who fiercely confront us about our blind spots. Friendship is a dynamic category, not just a Kodak moment. Somehow, thinking about all the possibilities that good will affords leads to an inspired state of mind, that washes away all the mishaps and misunderstandings...
So, for today's Much Love Monday, I love finding those quite words that motivate us to see a way out of problems, leading us to inspiration and creativity. I love the learning that makes life more beautiful. Do you know the Navajo chant, "In beauty may you walk?" The version I linked to ends, "In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively again, may I walk. My words will be beautiful." Well, that is what I hope for us all!