Since my late teens, my rite of passage to herald the spring is pedicured feet flaunting in a new pair of vibrant sandal wedges.
It’s my way of saying:
“Hello spring, I am so happy that you are here!”
This Spring, I bought a pair of trainers instead. Not for me, but for my amazing dad. Faced with a serious health challenge a few months ago, dad has been too weak to run. His determination to soon run a 10k with me, however, is astounding. Quite frankly, he’s my daily dose of inspiration.
I had to create “spring” for dad sealed with a promise to run together again.
After all, life is all about creating and sharing memorable experiences worth smiling about. Adding a special touch to a child’s meal to make it more inviting; giving a personalized card with an inspiring message to a friend in need, throwing a surprise party for a super-busy mommy. A new pair of shoes to salute spring, or a pair of trainers to cheer someone on.
I have philosophized the essence of life for as long as I can remember—after a long day at play as a child; over a glass of wine with friends and strangers alike; during long runs; on countless sleepless nights. With my dad’s illness, I have been questioning the true essence of life more than ever. Yet, I have to admit, that it has been a priceless, learning experience.
As we grow and evolve mentally and spiritually, the mind and soul yearn for more.
“So, what is the true essence of life?” I still wonder at my wise, 40 plus years of age.
What really makes up a meaningful life? Clearly, the essence of life is not construed in the same way by everyone as it stems from lifelong, personal experiences and lessons learned. In fact, some people go through an entire lifetime, missing the gist of it—lost in their daily routine, disoriented in their demanding life and focusing on materialism.
Here’s what I’ve come to learn about life, coupled with words of wisdom from loved ones:
Love and appreciate yourself. Spread the love factor around you.
“Life is love. Love of self, child, partner, work, others, pet, nature; whatever resonates with each person. And, faith in one’s self or higher spiritual power, has to be bigger than doubt.”
~ Marina Theodotou
Create and share memorable experiences worth smiling about.
“Creation means your brain is in active mode and that you are the author. A thought becomes an action, the action becomes a habit, which turns into a way of life. Striking the right balance of creating while nurturing the temple of our soul is the key.”
~ Thomas Peccini.
“There is no room for pretentiousness in life. It’s energy draining to try to be something which you are not. Listen to your heart and follow that little voice inside you.”
~ Prokopis Solomou (my dad).
Live the moment.
“Embrace every little moment of happiness and make the best memories.”
~ Miranda Zachariou.
“Pause for a moment and open all your senses. Listen to the birds sing, the wind rustling the leaves and breathe in the silence. You are surrounded by the essence of life.”
~ Anna Donovan
Think positive and flush out negative thoughts.
“Be positive. Smile at life and it will smile back at you. Remember, negative thoughts are toxic.”
~ My dad
And, as a dear friend says:
“Learn to see and live life with the eyes of the heart and soul.”
~ Maria Thrasyvoulou
Invest in quality time.
Spend quality time with loved ones.
“Life is spending more time with people who matter the most.”
~ Christos Economides
“The essence of life is constant growth. Every day, I remind myself to keep moving, to be open to change, to keep enquiring and try to better myself.”
~ Harry Mavromichalis
When I asked Olympia Dukakis what life means to her at the age of 83, she told me: My philosophy lies in Franz Kafka’s statement: “The meaning of life- it ends.” These words, Olympia added, free me, focus me, relieve me.
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Editor: Travis May
Photo: Phil Koch/ Pixoto
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