Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Happy Philospher

By all meansmarry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher. -Socrates

Where does a couple who meets training for a marathon and who bonds so much doing Spartans together go to honeymoon? Greece of course. I've been thinking about Socrates quote as a guy who blogs philosophically on occasion and wondering if I'll blog less now that I'm married as well almost a full month into it, I am happily married. That will play over time and perhaps that quote says more about Socrates or his wife than it does about marriage but this blog is less about philosophy but it says it's how I hope and hope with life changes and marriage is by far the biggest hoping and coping life change I've chosen in the last several years. 

I can't say that this blog will be gigantically revealing but it's always been my intention to write here what I intend to read when my time comes and how could I not try to remember some things about my honeymoon (which by the way in my odd life was covered by Runner's World; we didn't even have a videographer but they decided to compensate for us). What did I learn or have reaffirmed on our honeymoon? We travel well together. It was a trip where we spent every waking moment and most sleeping ones together (I sleep less than most people including her) and we bonded well over food and drink and adventures. We take the roads less traveled where we're trying to find the paths of the locals and sometimes the things that are big to everyone else match (we loved the Acropolis) but we climbed up to it and around it in places where everyone was and others were we were the only ones. We watched sunsets and while we both have self consciousness about healthiness we managed to make sure to get alcohol and dessert in every single day. I definitely lost some weight for the wedding and got well on my way to finding it. We take history in stride and I thought of Greece that I know from the days of the ancient gods that we still have named so many things after but now has a Christian Cross on its flag and entire version of it called the Greek Orthodox Church. I took Greek in college and it turned out a fair bit of it is still in this brain with a hole and a scar. Elaine was impressed. Our first run on the honeymoon was on the original marathon course and of course we stopped to take a picture at kilometer 8. We ran it side by side and a friend from Greece was a little behind us. 

Out favorite place was in the middle, Meteora. It was a place where we were staying was away from most of the tourists and where we got more of Greek culture, at least country culture than anyone else. We found trails there that we were literally the only ones. We had formal hiking tours and an outdoor climbing one but there were ones where it was just us. There were places where I would have hiked and climbed on my own literally risking life and limb but my wife was nearby and somehow, the brain cancer patient whose never been too worried about death in any form since it comes to us all, passed those up so that she didn't have to watch and so I could live a little longer by her side. There were monasteries and we tried to go to two, each on a separate day but on the first one, they wouldn't let me in due to shorts that were too short (they didn't cover my knee caps) that was a nunnery and I couldn't help but be amused and joke that yeah these knees would have made them rethink those chastity vows. The wine later that night with Elaine made me glad she hadn't taken them (hey if that offends you, well, you might want to get educated on part of what honeymoons are about). On both the first and the second one we were shocked that there were nearby trails with gorgeous views of both the mountains and the monasteries themselves that literally no one was on. Standing up there or in Athens made it fairly easy to imagine to me how they would feel that God or the gods lived up there and they'd want to be close... Standing in line didn't match up but Elaine and I matched up in how we shared it, perceived it, hiked it and well... let me be clear no Greek Goddess has anything on my wife. 

We continued to Santorini where tourism was thick in a town that has 15 thousand people but 1.5 million visitors. We found off the beaten path trails and hikes where again we were the only ones or one of very few. On the areas where its crowded and everyone wants to catch what is a gorgeous scenery tour, it amuses me how people will post to look philosophical against the white buildings or the ocean and then they'll go back to looking on their phone for more time than they look at that to get the right filter or they'll get their company or stranger to take it again from this angle. Life, life is full of us projecting how we want to be perceived but social media in beautiful places has made that easier I suppose. I quipped about it on social media and we even posed trying to mock the idea but like a lot of my sarcastic jokes it was funny more to me than anyone else but Elaine laughed and if the people you love get you, I'll take that over anything. We had ridiculously good meals and wine there too. One of both of our favorite moments was that on a 10k walk at sunset there was a local guy who was sitting there with a girl and just as the sunset was about perfect he kneeled and proposed. She looked shocked and out of pure instinct I caught what was one of the top 5 pictures of my trip. After a few minutes, I walked up showed him the picture, got his email address and then walked away. Obviously the guy hadn't felt the need for an audience or a capture but he ended up appreciating it and send me a very thank you email. That picture will not be one I ever share anywhere because it's their moment but it was a picture in contrast from the 4 couples we had seen getting married in town. I wish them all well but somehow if I had to pick he's who I'd cheer for the loudest as the engagement cycle was starting just as our honeymoon was wrapping up. It's the circle of life and it moves us all. Marriage ultimately succeeds or fail in the private moments and I loved the way he started his. 

We reconnected on this trip realizing that we were on pace with each other on walks and runs (she walks faster than I do, I run faster but every once in a while we do it side by side). We realized we're both more mountain people than beach people but could enjoy either. Her taste in food is great even if she doesn't like sweets as much as I do and her taste in wine is improving. Her taste in this man is questionable but too late too change easily and I trust she won't. But you know what, I said to the groomsmen before the wedding was some memories with them from winning a tournament to a trip that I'd gone with one of them to qualifying for Boston while they cheered, at many moments in my life, I thought this is going to be the coolest moment of my life. I was wrong, those have all been surpassed. The wedding was the coolest party of my life... so far. And this honeymoon has been the best trip and private party of my life... so far. But on both, I choose to believe and believe to choose that both are still going to get better. The best days are still coming. We bought absolutely nothing back of permanence, no permanent souvenirs  we had each other. 

One of the conversations we talked about was about how I thought marriage wasn't in my future; that's well known. What's less well known is Elaine also for some reason thought she'd never marry. A couple of the wedding guests who came were glad to see her abandon that train of thought because they said marriage was the highest expression of love. It's the right idea but I think the highest expression of love is the fulfillment not the keeping of the vows. That played through my head I ran the last morning at 4 am there and the moon had just a tiny sliver of night against a black sky with lots of stars. I'd point the moon out to my honey as we were headed to the airport thinking about Plato's old remark: We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light. The grey matter in my brain was a huge reason why I was afraid of the dark and I still have no idea how it will go but the happiness that comes from being married is a huge light in my life and in Greece I was reminded that I'm no longer living by fear. And the way I'm enjoying that light is nowhere near platonic ;).

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