Milos’ shoreline is studded with many old fishermen’s houses called “syrmata.” Fishermen built these boathouses in natural protected harbors with what look like garage doors at the bottom into which they would drag their fishing boats after a day on the water. They built second stories on top in order to rest and recover prior to lugging their catch up the mountain to their full-time residences. Eventually as fishing as an occupation declined and tourism took over these houses became summer cottages for the whole family and eventually became transformed into vacation rentals.
Walking around these waterfront villages has me thinking about the simple life and what it really takes to be happy. These places are, at best, modest. Yet what sets them apart is that they take a front-row seat to the majestic show that nature puts on every day. Food is provided for by the sea and the gardens and animals of local farms. Family and friends provide love and belonging. The land itself provides ample opportunity for exercise in the form of walking up and down steep cliffs and the natural movements required to maintain a homestead. Observing local religious ceremonies and having time offline allows for spiritual introspection and meditation.
In a few days I’ll be going back to the US and my usual routine. I hope to remember the lessons of the fishermen; that true happiness and the recharging of one’s batteries can happen at home. I hope to remember that even when not on vacation I have the tools to allow me to live a happy, content life full of health and wellbeing. This trip has reinforced the knowledge that the trick is to find balance by focusing on the simple things- eating good food, exercising, prioritizing love and social connection, and setting aside quiet time for introspection. Remembering to do these things will keep my batteries charged even in the absence of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. My hope is that they can do the same for you.