Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How to live

If you have not already read it, there is a wonderful piece in the New York Times about the Greek island of Ikaria, and its long-lived residents. The author is Dan Buettner. His article leads off with the story of a Greek man in his mid-60s, living in New Jersey in 1976, who is diagnosed with lung cancer. He decides to go home to Greece to die, because it is cheaper than dying in Jersey.

He doesn't die. He is still alive. Eating and napping and gardening and drinking wine on Ikaria. In two-tone plad.

Here is a paragraph - the italics are mine:

"Although unemployment is high — perhaps as high as 40 percent — most everyone has access to a family garden and livestock, Parikos told me. People who work might have several jobs. Someone involved in tourism, for example, might also be a painter or an electrician or have a store. “People are fine here because we are very self-sufficient,” she said. “We may not have money for luxuries, but we will have food on the table and still have fun with family and friends. We may not be in a hurry to get work done during the day, so we work into the night. At the end of the day, we don’t go home to sit on the couch."

The article ends like this (but read the whole thing - the six pages of  inbetween bits are wonderful):

"I had one last question. How does he think he recovered from lung cancer?

'It just went away,' he said. 'I actually went back to America about 25 years after moving here to see if the doctors could explain it to me.'

I had heard this part of the story before. It had become a piece of the folklore of Ikaria, proof of its exceptional way of life. Still, I asked him, 'What happened?'

'My doctors were all dead.' "

It's a nice, long read, so pour yourself a glass of wine or a cup of black coffee and settle in. This is not about what to do in order to live. It is about how to live.

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