For the past six years, Zorba the Greek has been a touchstone for me, a literary and cinematic guidepost for living and living well.
The character of Zorba has inspired me to get out of my head and live in the world, not in my mind or my books. He has shown me the power of reveling in the moment, being present, and embracing a little bit of madness to cut the rope and be free.
For years, when I’ve asked myself what I’ve wanted, “to be free” has been the answer. But free from what?
Free from my mind, I think now. Free from my inhibitions, analysis paralysis, need to look good, and obsession with perfection and the absence of mistakes or failure.
It’s all folly, of course. Life is filled with mess. It’s the one thing we’re guaranteed: a messy life. That comes with love and heartbreak, accomplishment and catastrophe, joy and pain, and everything else.
Freedom is embracing this, enjoying it all, and not allowing fear or overthought to get in the way of reveling in pure existence. Because, after all, existence is the greatest gift. I’m alive, as are you. And to be alive means soaking in all of life: the chaos, the madness, the joy, the love, and everything else.
There is a lot of talk these days, thanks to Brene Brown, about vulnerability and being in the arena. For me, Zorba is the consummate man in the arena. And to step onto that sand, to be willing to fail valiantly and to be covered in sweat, blood, and tears, a person — I — must have a little bit of madness. For being in the arena is to be free.
So, ask yourself, do you have a little bit of madness? Or are you still tethered to the rope, fearful of what freedom may bring? It’s true, madness and freedom will bring pain and suffering, but they will also bring joy and revelry. You cannot have one without the other. To live is to experience all, not to cherry-pick the emotions and experiences that you think will create a meaningful life.
So embrace a little madness and cut the rope and be free.