‘Where does the time go?’ she says.
“How have we just finished lunch and snoozed on the beach and it’s now time for the sun to set?”
“Welcome to my world” I am laughing as if there was some explanation to offer of why M’s vacation here on this Island has flown by.
I cannot explain why time seems to pass differently here, why it is a world that is punctuated by meals where we share everything and our arms touch as they reach across plates and tables, and wine glasses are always full, and sleep is sound and deep, adventures offer themselves up and the blue sea of swimming is broken by wandering and wondering. And talking…oh how we talked, and talked. Thank you M. for visiting. That is exactly what a vacation should be – a letting go of time and how it dominates our lives.
Then I think oh, I’m not on vacation all the time and feel that pang of guilt and regret. Time works it’s magic on me as I chide myself for incomplete projects and self-imposed deadlines. Time has ran away from me… When Autumn winks in the distance with it comes that back to school feeling in the air and a slower reflective pace arrives to the island as it quietens. ‘What have you done?’ even the trees seem to whisper.
Island days ebb and flow as they steal hours, squashing in blank spaces of time spent doing and not doing, measured out by sunsets hurtling the orange light into the darkening sea before us. Days ripening the grapes, mouldering the figs, pears softening too soon as autumn yellows at the edges of summer. Maybe that explains why Ancient Greeks had different Gods and different words for time. Chronos is sequential clock time measured out against a dial and Kiaros is the moment of time, not a measure but a way of seeing the right opportunity of time. Then Aion represented the everlasting eternity of the Greek Cosmos. In some ways these concepts explained humanity’s place in a temporal world but they can’t explain where a week or day dissapears!
Humans are obsessed with time. How long does time feel when waiting? How fast does time seem to fly when in the midst of things? Why are we counting time and yet mourn its passing? Is it not easier to just live as opportunity in Kiaros, breathe it in and let it pass when things are panicked and packed with activities, or lingering in moments being ‘present’ with our ‘best-selves’ (whatever that means).
Despite this, it has been a happy few weeks of time out, friends and family visitors – all lovely as I have journeyed around and taken lots of ferry rides, been a tourist and eaten in a lot of tavernas. I appreciate the way that showing people around gives me a new perspective as well. Inspired again by the why; why we stay, why we are drawn back, why there are still mysteries and so much to learn.
Often I have found myself comfortably walking on a wild hill thinking I belong to nothing, to no-one. When people suddenly arrive and remind me where I do belong and they call me back into the roles I inhabit, those I feel comfort in, standing next to them, holding hands, talking endlessly without apology or worry. It reminds me that home is not about places, it is about people. Despite the wishful Kiaros, time is not about what you show for the hours, but becomes about what you take from it. Perhaps that’s enough to keep me going when there is nothing else to offer up.
As the summer slips slowly from your grasp may it keep you warm through the coldest of winters.