Happy Cyber Monday, friends. For many, I know that discounted shopping opportunities like this are exciting, but for me, well, I could care less. You see, I've never been big into beautiful things. Beautiful places though... yes, please! I hope this means I'm visually-driven and artistic rather than completely superficial.
I just cannot get enough natural beauty or that of architecture, photography, dance, art museums, design, and the culinary arts. These aesthetic forms delight and inspire me, and unseen ones often help determine my next destination. It should be no surprise then that Greece often tops this "beautiful places to go" list.
It was the Ancient Greeks that first defined beauty as pure, simple, and symmetrical. Since then, the word has been shaped and reshaped by culture so that it is not only seen as a quality of perfection, but also imperfection. (Remember the Japanese ideal of wabi sabi?) Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Still, there is one aspect that seems to have remained consistent throughout the world: the connection between aesthetic appeal and well being.
I began this year with my healthiest resolution and these words, "Is it a coincidence that when I look back on the happiest parts of my life, they're also the times in which I looked and felt my best? I think not." Hippocrates, a Greek doctor, teacher, and "father of medicine," would probably agree with me. He believed in treating the body as a whole and that optimum health would be reached through a proper diet, fresh air, good hygiene, and plenty of exercise. Most, if not all, Ancient Greeks agreed with him on that last part; exercise had become a physical activity to reflect their belief in the beauty of the human form.
Of course, I am no health evangelist. I believe that seeking pleasure is equally as important as maintaining optimal health. And for that, I look towards another school of thought originating in Ancient Greece. Epicuris, an atomic materialist, believed pleasure to be the greatest good. He believed you attain the greatest good in living modestly, gaining knowledge of how the world works, and limiting one's desires. These days, epicureanism has been misinterpreted to mean a love of enjoyments, especially good food and drink. As for my personal understanding and practice, it falls somewhere between these two extremes.
Each day, I combine Hippocrates' philosophy on health with an adaptation of Epicuris' philosophy on pleasure as I strive for "good living." And according my favorite authentic Greek Yogurt, FAGE, good living is actually a Greek tradition. Interesting. Apparently, in spite of my attempt to combine all the yummy philosophies I've acquired throughout my travels and life experience, those from this beautiful country I've never actually seen seem to have resonated the most.
The best way to enjoy life is to keep oneself intellectually stimulated and physically satisfied, and that, my friends, just may be the most beautiful thing of all.
I would love the opportunity to experience Greece for myself some day, and that is why I wrote this post...