On the shores of Ikaria

I find the tools to climb the highest mountain

Again and again I had this dream: I was travelling by bus through an empty and dusty landscape. Grey stones and rocks besides the bumpy street we were following and at the horizon only high mountains. No green or houses around and in the bus just a few other travellers. It looked like the end of the world and I nearly got depressive, while looking out of window. How would you survive in this kind of landscape?

All of a sudden the bus stopped and the driver told me to get out. I was puzzled, but could not react in another way, then just following his advice. I grapped my backpack and some minutes later I found myself on the road, in the middle of a dustcloud the bus left behind. I was kind of shocked, not knowing, where to turn to. Then I put myself on the road and started walking towards the horizon. - This is the moment, when I normally wake up ….. still feeling lost, so alone and kind of afraid of the road in front of me. But after the first morning coffee I forget about the dream … till next time.

In these days, anchoring for a while on the island Ikaria, I was confranted very abruptly with my dream again. I went for an early morning hike in the near by mountains of Agios Kirikos, just shortly after sun-rise. I concentrated on the path, because these rocks can be pretty tricky. When I found my hiking rhythm and got used to the trail, I could open myself to the beauty of the nature I was surrounded by : the old forest trees, majestic behaviour in the early morning light. The old stone walls, hand made long time ago, but still intact and telling you the story of their making of: how men were working side by side, silently, sweating, to get this work done : to separate the goats from the cultivated terrasses, where they were growing their vegetables and fruits to live from. The beauty of the sunrise over the island Fourni with colours, hardly to describe. Or the smell I was surrounded by: fresh Thymian, which has a very special perfume at early morning hours. And the best of all : the silence ! Just a little breeze, sometimes some noises from goats or sheep and their little bells, while running around. This hike got a holistic approach and the higher I climbed up the mountain, the more I could listen to my thoughts and got in touch with my unspoken feelings. Sometimes it needs some silence and kind of lonelyness so that hidden voices can be heard. And this was obviously my moment: up there in the mountains of Ikaria I got a clearer picture of my hidden wishes: while watching some of the old trees and their roots gripping around the rocks to reach balance and stability I could feel this strong wish : I want to get roots again. I want to plant myself somewhere into the earth, to rest, to balance myself. If I could find myself a good place, I might even have a chance to grow and blossom again. A good atmosphere around might be the water needed. I recognized that my travelling may come to an end. The last years had been a constant struggle, new challenges to cope with, new places and people to meet and again and again the question, how to make myself a home. I am used to say : « Whereever I may place my books, there is my home. I have roots, that reach into the air. They can easily be put somewhere, to get a rest, but when needed, they can be taken out to move on to the next place.“ But now I recognize, that I don’t want to use the phrase any longer. I would prefer to say : « Welcome to my home. This is me and this is where I live. » It makes me a bit afraid. To commit myself to a place would mean : to digg deeper, to find answers to questions, I normally would not care about, because I would only stay for a while. To settle means, to finish the work of the house and not living under a roof of permanent construction. It would mean to accept in long term the surrounding I would live in. It would mean to find - somehow - a way to the local community. To offer myself roots, would mean to find answers to questions such as : where do I want to live? How do I want to live? What do I need, to make myself comfortable? Essential questions coming up, questions to find an answer for …. I was deep in my thoughts, while hiking the trail on the Ikarian mountain and I recognized, that this morning trip will put me on a different road. Obviously another mountain, a steep mountain to climb, to find the answers and the place for me. But this perpective does not make me afraid. To the contrary : up there on the Ikarian mountain, I got the confidence that I will manage. Slowly, slowly - Ikarian style - I will move on and one day, it will happen : I will have roots again. Trusting these feelings I looked around me and all of a sudden I realized, that the hiking trail in front of me resembled the road of my dream : rocks and stones around, mountain at the horizon. But in comparision to my dream, I was not afraid. To the contrary: I was confident that this rocky road is my path to follow… and for sure : it will be one of the most beautiful hiking trips I will undertake - tough, but worth. So on the shores of the island Ikaria I found the necessary tools to climb my highest mountain : the right questions to ask, confidence and curiosity. Interesting.

Birgit Urban

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