REFLECTIONS ON TIME RECENTLY SPENT IN GREECE, PART 1

Those who know me, know what Greece means to me. It’s much more than the source of the products I import. Twenty years ago, when I gave up everything I’d been doing in life and decided to hitch my fortunes to Greece, I had no sense of what my relationship to it would become. I knew it as a beguiling and stimulating place that tugged at me and filled me with youthful hope and ambition. Now, two decades later, my life is inseparable from it, and pulls at me even more. Like any longterm relationship, though, as the bonds between me and Greece have deepened, our connection has become more complex. There’s much laughter, beauty, and joy. But also pain, exasperation, and heartache. Altogether, though, these things merge to create a connection that is complex and profound and deeply satisfying. As Epicurus said, “You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” 

Map via www.aneki.com

Earlier this year I spent over two months in Greece. There were a variety of different reasons for this. One, I was trying to salvage a romantic relationship (unfortunately in life certain things are out of our control). Two, I was trying to quick-start the food side of my importing business. It’s called Naturally Greek, and you’ll hear more about that later. Three, I wanted to observe Greek life in the midst of the economic and political turmoil that engulfed the country in the last few years. And, finally, I wanted to spend time with friends and family who I normally don’t get to see during my business trips. Altogether, I was contemplating the question, Should I spend a lot more of my life in Greece? For the sake of both my personal life and my business (to put in more time with my producers, and to search for new and interesting items).

I’m not sure I came up with the answers to those questions, though the removal of one of the big personal motivations has made it easier to stay put here in the U.S. Not that I was about to pack up and move to Greece. My home is, as it ever was, in Chicago. And my life is spent largely traveling around this country, trying to spread the gospel of great Greek wine and food. But my time in Greece was valuable. In the next series of entries of this blog, I’ll tell you more about my food business and also describe the state of Greek culture, politics, and economics as I saw them first hand. And, then, further down the road, we’ll get back to the nitty gritty of the grapes, wines, and foods that I import. I just wanted to note that, for me, being a good importer is much more than buying products in one country and selling them in another. No, it’s a relationship, as complex and powerful as I described above. And this relationship inflects everything I do. 

Next up: On the Importance of Relationships

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