May 13, 2020

Solitude in Lockdown: 3 Greek Words that helped Guide me Forward.

Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, I went into absolute solitude for a couple of days with no internet, no books, and no human connection—not even with myself through the mirror.

Absolute solitude. Pure silence.

Exactly four years ago, I did the same in a silent meditation retreat in Mexico. I craved to connect with myself, touch the mystery of the universe, feel that safe place within, find answers, and gain the required inner strength for my journey ahead.

I had just quit my job and was about to emigrate to Greece with no solid plan in place, following a “calling” that didn’t make much sense to my rational mind. Spending my days in self-contemplation, meditation, and listening to teachings, I connected with the timeless teachings of the Greek philosophers, poets, writers, messiahs, the various monotheistic religious teachings, Eastern and Western philosophy, and, most importantly, with the inherent wisdom of myself. It was one of the most life-altering experiences of my life.

On May 1st, I embarked on the same journey, this time from my apartment under the Parthenon in downtown, and locked down Athens. I went back to that place of silence, but this time not with the aim to touch the mystery of the universe, but rather to honor my last four years of searching for truth and freedom. My intentions were celebration, honor, and gratitude for my life’s path and being alive. With all that is happening in the world, I also felt the need to connect even deeper, to hear clearer, and listen carefully to what it is we are all here to do, and how to do it.

I had my initial thoughts, but I just wanted to “know” for sure. We are living unprecedented times, and people like me, and many more in this world, feel like we’re at the forefront of this big change. Not from an ego-centric point of view, but just because we—therapists, coaches, healers, visionaries, artists, writers—are somehow already walking the talk, and have answered the call to support others on their journey toward happiness, health, joy, and freedom.

So, in this article, I’d like to share three major insights I received during this time in silence, about the post-COVID age.

1. Kairos—the rightness of time and space that creates the best conditions for action. Time is becoming relative. 

In Greek, we have two words for time, chronos and kairos. You and I have been brought up with the time reference of chronos, a.k.a. chronological time. Now, though it has served a practical purpose in these timelines, it has also taken a lot away from us.

Chronos is linear, made for and from the mind. To make sense of it all. Think about it—our age, our working hours, our careers, all our systems, are built on chronos and, quite frankly, giving us all quite a bit of stress and anxiety, which, by the way, is the number one cause of illness. What we are called to do is not let go of chronos all together, that would be a utopia, but instead learn to integrate kairos into our lives. It’s hard for the mind to grasp this, but this is what’s needed right now.

Kairos is the new time measurement by which we have to live. In fact, with everything we’re going through, we have no other choice than to live by kairos, the right moment, the opportune moment, the surrendering to time to some extent. Nature does that. We just have to look at what nature does, and we’ll understand. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make goals and plans and try to achieve them—we have to stay flexible with time, that’s all I’m saying. We have to untie ourselves from operating only in chronological time and allow for kairos to take over when needed. We control what happens to us through self-sovereignty, but there are things we simply have to allow for kairos to bring into our lives.

Kairos is not linear; it’s the timing of the heart and soul. Chronos is mind; kairos is heart. When the time is right, with your right intention and actions, the time will come. And when the time is there, it’s your conscious decisions that will make things happen in your life. And that might be even quicker than you initially would have thought with your chronological mind. 

2. Philotimo—taking responsibility for yourself as a human being and acting in accordance with righteousness and honor, regardless of the consequences. Life and work are changing for the better.

Let’s face it—we lived in a world that didn’t make much sense. And it went from not making much sense to being quite mad. And we haven’t seen nothing yet! With old systems collapsing in front of our eyes, the only way to handle what’s coming is by personal (and professional) metamorphosis.

On a professional level, we are called to do what is best for the collective (our planet and all living beings). This calling is something that comes naturally to us, but we had been sidetracked by all the wants, must-haves, and systems that go against our true nature as human beings. We became human doings, and that just went terribly wrong. It’s time to become human beings again, through philotimia. It’s incredible to see how philotimia has expressed itself in these times of COVID-19. The acts of goodwill and honor for our fellow humans have been phenomenal and given me goosebumps multiple times. 

The way forward professionally is acting with philotimo in mind, doing good despite the status quo, or what we’ve been taught. We are inherently good; we just have learned not to be in these competitive systems built on power and ownership. We have to transect that with philotimia. That doesn’t mean that we all have to become charities and not ask to be paid for our products, time, or services. It means we need to look around and redefine “enough-ness” and help others on their journey to an honorable life. We have to be fair and do what’s right in any way possible. This is the only long-term solution. 

On a personal level, we’re being called to find freedom, safety, and a place of happiness within ourselves. If we keep depending on outside resources to feel safe, free, and happy, we’re going to have a tough time. It has already been proven unsustainable. We can no longer rely on anything outside of ourselves for those inner qualities. We were made to believe in these false premises by the systems in which we were living. Safety, freedom, and happiness can be taken away just as quickly as they were promised to us, as proven by what we are collectively experiencing right now. 

If you have experienced a broken heart, you know what I mean. If you have lost a loved one, you know what I mean. We must metamorphize into that which we were always meant to be: strong, free, happy, confident, and courageous human beings who are their own source of security, happiness, and love. 

3. Gnosis—the root from which all knowledge has emerged. A knowing from that which is beyond the five senses. Not knowledge that is intellectual or a conceptual belief or theory, but the kind that is conscious and experiential. 

In Greek, we have many words for knowledge, but the one type we need to embody in this day and age is gnosis. Gnosis is this inner knowing that our minds cannot grasp. Guided by this gnosis, applied with logical and critical thinking, we’re going to be able to shape a new world.

This knowing comes from a place of no disturbance. You cannot experience gnosis while continuously surrounded by the chatter of TV, social media, or negative people around you. This gnosis is the fruit of stillness, being in nature, and connecting with your heart and soul. Our world will be catapulted forward by people who have gnosis and use their intellect in the right way to transfer this gnosis from a deep place of knowing into outer reality. And nothing bad can come from this divine knowing, because it is just that, divine.

Interestingly enough, what all of these insights have in common is this: the way forward into the next era is by integrating the heart. The heart is in kairos, the heart guides a philotimo person, and the heart has the gnosis. That doesn’t mean that we have to throw our minds out of the window, by all means. We have our intellect for a reason and we have to use it at the right time, in the right context.

But what is evident for me is that, without the heart, we aren’t going to go anywhere. And I’m not saying that I’m right or that this is the right way, but what I can say is that this all feels really good, honest, and truthful. It also feels safe, free, and brings me happiness.

So, I’ll go with it and take anyone that resonates with this with me. And we’ll see how it goes. Will you join me/us?


Artwork by the ever-so-talented and dearest friend, Myrto Makri.

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