Letters to a Friend #1: July 2019

To Greece,

For all you’ve done…..

I’ve come to realize that I have a communion with the world that I can’t explain. It’s a feeling. A heightened sense of things. It feels completely intangible but it defines me.

I remember being in Newfoundland in the middle-of-nowhere-Atlantic and being transported. Beneath the cliffs that stood guard over the cove there was a water more teal than I thought possible. I remember looking out the bus window as the blood-orange sun dipped beneath the canopy as we winded down the snake-like road to the shores of Lake Malawi in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. I listen to the voice of Carl Sagan describing The Pale Blue Dot and my throat tightens….

I went to Greece because I was following something. Chasing it. Lacing up my boots and searching the world for it.

I was 17, sick with love and a deep feeling of confusion about who I wanted to be.

In the end, that thing followed me.

It followed me and it continues to follow me, all the way.

It wasn’t until I went to Greece that I thought about how I wanted to live. Where I wanted to live. Who I wanted to live as. It was on an island called Mykonos. Usually characterized by cold drinks, tourists partying and music thumping, all I wanted was to get lost in it’s stucco mazes, the Mediterranean blue, the olive skin and the water lapping against a cafe on the ocean. I don’t remember what I ate or what I drank at that cafe but I remember the epiphany.

I can live this way? You actually get to go anywhere on the planet and choose what kind of human you will become? We so often live in prisons of our own making. We hold the keys and yet we don’t leave because there is a risk to being free.

We convince ourselves that our home is where we were born. That our people are the others who have arbitrarily been born there and that this is what’s on offer.

It’s all a lie.

It’s not true.

You showed me that, Greece.

In hindsight, it couldn’t have been more perfect that it happened to me on this island. Mykonos is nestled almost exactly in between Greece and Turkey. The nowhere place. You’re not here anymore, but you’re not there yet. So where are you? That was my question.

This was my nowhere land in between who I was and who I was becoming. Where I was and where I was going.

I sit here on the East Coast of Canada and I have the same questions. I’m slowly putting the pieces of my answer together and each year I add, erase and substitute. As I put the pieces together I’ve made peace with the fact that this question doesn’t have an answer. You can get close. In moments, you can get very close, but then you inevitably forget and life takes over again until you remember. You’re on this ride forever pal and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

I don’t wish to return to you, Greece. In fact, I’ll probably never be back.

I had my questions and I needed you to help me answer them but your piece of the puzzle has been placed. I needed you, and you did not let me down. But there are other questions I have and so I must go on chasing. Following.

To you, Greece….my dear friend.

With Gratitude,

Matt