This has been a week of medical emergencies (thankfully all with good outcomes) so what better time for me to hole up with a book whose author seems to have found the key to happiness by living a simple life on a tiny Greek island?
Prior to her time on Tilos, Jennifer’s life has followed a familiar, modern day pattern for a young, single woman : study hard, work hard, struggle through relationships, rinse and repeat. All accompanied with a growing sense of dissatisfaction and a frustrating search for that elusive state of happiness.
Jennifer decides to take the helm and change that pattern because “Life is too short not to reach out for what makes you happy”. When her current partner backs out on sharing a new life together in Greece she forges ahead alone and moves to the tiny Greek island of Tilos. Brave, I thought.
Having spent several months at a time in the Greek islands and from my home here in Cyprus, I could really identify with life on Tilos; the energy-sapping heat, the ubiquitous goats and citrus trees plus the heavy scent of herbs and grilling meats which fills the air. The enormous generosity and welcoming nature of the islanders shines through – the Greeks even have a word for it: filoxenia. Jennifer writes of a life I know and love; of what is important. Spend time with and care for other people. Eat, drink, laugh, play. Slow down. Siga-siga.
More than anything, this book is about simplifying: live with few possessions, eat simple foods, respond to the seasons, retain hope and take time to discover what sort of person you are and what makes you happy. I know I would love Tilos – from the unchanging scene on the webcam (yes, it is working…) to Irini’s offering of out-of-date yoghurt (Is OK?)
The text is simple, the words uncomplicated and this style beautifully conveys Jennifer’s gentle integration into island life with her obvious delight at finding joy in simple pleasures such as swimming, walking and enjoying the views from her house. Of course, the path is far from smooth and Jennifer writes candidly of broken hearts, betrayal, self-doubt and her desire to have a child.
This book is an account of Jennifer’s island life experience but holds a message for us all; are you living the life of your choice?