Although I’ve always had a general propensity to have a full schedule and a full mind, this year has been above average in its complexity. In times like these, you think the worst possible thing you could do is drop everything and leave. Planning a trip adds another series of items to your long to-do list and a whole bunch of decisions to make when the most predominant symptom of your fatigue is precisely the inability to make any decision easily.
But the main decision was made, somehow: I had booked a trip to Corfu, Greece. It was the middle row of a sandwich that involved two other countries (England and Germany), but the ratio of work and play was life’s ideal ratio: one third work, two thirds play. Corfu was a longstanding dream of mine, though I barely knew anything about the place and could not even remember seeing an image of it that could explain why it called me as much as it did.
So, I set out to recenter myself, to regain peace, to heal, to float in salty seas, to rejuvenate in the sun, to take pictures and write, and to refuel after a string of noisy and mentally draining months that would push anyone sane to their limits.
The one third work went fairly well. To my greatest shock, it was the two thirds play that proved to be the challenge. I had always been an expert traveller, in the sense that it never took me long to feel immersed in my new surroundings – meditative and inspired, carefreely collecting moments and memories. This time, it was not happening. A day, two days, three days in Corfu and my mind kept racing, with my words not lagging far behind, spewing out everything my mind touched on, very little of it meditative, inspired or carefree. Everytime I felt myself feel something profound and beautiful, my mind instinctively redirected the thought to a worry or complaint.
It was a bit paradoxical. I was aware of it and totally irritated by it, but I somehow couldn’t change it. I blamed the events of the past months, the race against time that had become a habit, the to-do-lists, the competing priorities, the pettiness of everyday annoyances, the late nights where neither good work nor good sleep could be properly accomplished, the invasive loudness of social media and the multi-tasking while eating. The balance had tipped so far that it just couldn’t regulate itself, at least not without conscious effort.
Has that ever happened to you while trying to relax? It was entirely new to me.
On our third day in Corfu, I fell in love with a place called Barbati. On the north-eastern coast of the island, it was known for its gorgeous turquoise waters and for its stunning views of the Albanian hills across the way.
We parked our little car on top of the cliff and started our walk down what felt like hundreds of steps under the beating sun.
I immediately felt a kinship with Barbati. The area of the beach we stumbled upon by chance was secluded and tiny in comparison to the vastness of the sea and the towering Pantokator mountain overhead.