Final night in Europe. Tomorrow I’m off to the UK. I’m sitting on the curb of a street in Corfu. Listening to Stelios play with his friend. They live the alternative life. No bank accounts, no full time jobs, no houses, no bills… sounds utopian. They say it’s not their best evening for playing music, they are out of tune, they say. But I think they play great! They create this beautiful Mediterranean mood, on the street right next to a church.
They busk, morning and evening. That’s how they survive, then they sleep somewhere hidden in the heart of town. They know so many people in town, the best places to eat, and the best places for coffee too. They hide away from the merciless sun during the hot summer days, but chase the sun’s life saving warmth through the seasons, across the European continent.
Before I hit the road my granddad asked me with a disproving note in his voice ‘You want to live like a gypsy?’ and I said, ‘Well somewhat, yes.’. For him, I’m throwing away a ‘good, stable life’ and not ‘settling down’ to do the career and family thing. For me, I’m discovering the world, I’m discovering new possibilities, opportunities, ways of living.
Meeting Stelios is one of the most incredible things that happened to me while on my trip. I met an amazing, decent human being, whose heart is full of love, compassion and acceptance, whose mind is capable of critical thinking and deep interesting discussions. He earns a living on the streets, and sleeps under the stars, his belongings are down to the basics, yet he gave me so much, sooo much I would never be able to repay him. He gave me a new perspective, an insight, an example of how one can be happy and authentic on the fringes of society, yet in the heart of it, contributing no less for the common good – by creating an atmosphere worth stopping for and enjoying on the busy streets of a touristy place. I love buskers and I think they should be encouraged by the councils and governments, they capture our attention for a moment or more of admiration, laughter, smiles, joy, and shared positive experience – something we hardly have in our routine, boring, stressful lives.
It’s probably been a few years now that the following quote has been ‘living’ on my Skype mood: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ― Marcel Proust. I left the UK almost 3 months ago to seek new landscapes, and after seeing so much of Nature’s beauty out there, and meeting new people who seek the same as well as new alternative ways of living…I found Stelios and he gave me new eyes.
This was the perfect way to complete my journey in Eastern and Southern Europe. Stelios reminded me of my ‘deal with it’ attitude of 2015, he reminded me that if you want something, you will find a way to get it, my encounter with him taught me that you don’t find an alternative life style- you make one; you are the leader of your life, why take orders from a society that cares more about norms and money than freedom and happiness.
And don’t get me wrong here, I met plenty of people who have made their alternative lives and who were absolutely inspiring and made me re-evaluate and see things differently. But I did not get to quite see and gain insight in how they got there, or how they were actually making it through their alternative lives day by day- I didn’t see it first hand, I only heard and witnessed partial stories and times of their lives.
Stelios did not say or do anything extraordinary to give me these new eyes, he was just himself – authentic, he was just living his alternative life, in which he invited me and shared, and I entered somewhat accidentally as a passing element – a tiny fragment of his life story.
Today I thank him for being himself, for inviting me in his life, for sharing, for the insight and for the new eyes he gave me unknowingly, unsuspecting of the powers he has – as a genuine human being.
I can only hope that through being my genuine, authentic self I give new eyes to those I encounter while living my own version of a happy life.