Arts & Culture

Father’s Life Manual

Reading time: 2 minutes

In April 2008, riding the train from Thessaloniki where he worked back to Athens where our family lived, my father decided to write a life manual for my sister and me. My sister was nine and I was only six, but our father knew that in the blink of an eye we’d be teenagers, and in two we’d be adults, encumbered by all of adulthood’s challenges. He knew that like anyone we would be in dire need of help, and he was right.

For the last decade or so I’ve made a habit of going back to this document every December when the passage of time is most acutely felt. Last year he published a slightly modified version of the manual in the Greek newspaper Kathimerini’s Christmas edition, this year I thought it right to do the same with Tra I Leoni, although slightly prematurely. The manual goes: 

  • Life is short but can have great interest. Worlds await to be explored, people to be met, treasures to be found, and ideas to be conjured. 
  • Read a lot and always aim at enriching your knowledge. 
  • Seek ‘mentors’ wherever you may find them. Learn from others’ experience, especially from those older or better than you. Emulate the latter.  
  • Do not be afraid of that which is different. Seek it out and try to understand it. Always respect it. 
  • Laugh often and loudly. Sing – and if you don’t believe you’re good enough to sing publicly, do it in the shower. Dance. 
  • Do not be jealous of others’ traits or belongings. Always consider that they have their own undesirable insecurities and problems. 
  • Develop a strong personality. Pursue distinctions of all sorts. Escape the masses and their ideas – they are boring, unimportant, and oftentimes dangerous. 
  • Travel. Show respect towards the inhabitants and customs of the places you visit. From wherever you depart, take memories, experiences, and most importantly, your garbage.  
  • Love your body and care for it as best you can. It is the most perfect tool you possess, and you will never have a better one.  
  • Try again and again and again until you succeed in your goals. Do not be afraid of failure. Learn from it.  
  • Do not waste your energy fruitlessly. Remember that life is not a sprint, but a race of endurance.  
  • But also keep in mind that certain things only happen in their own time, and you can never know when that time may be. 
  • Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. There may not be another.  
  • Experiment with as many things as you can, but never succumb to harmful habits.  
  • Treat everyone with kindness. It shows good taste and costs absolutely nothing.  
  • Do not hesitate to ask for help from those around you when necessary, and never be selfish in lending your help to others.  
  • Aim at leaving behind something useful for at least the next generation to come.  
  • Explore yourself and discover your emotions, in spite of the dangers this entails. 
  • Befriend yourself. Oftentimes you’ll be alone and should be joyous in your own company.  
  • Never give up. Life, above all else, is a race.  
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Author profile

Currently a BSc in International Politics and Government student; my interests extend to philosophy, literature, poetry, and any discipline which combines objectivity with doses of creative self-expression, in the hope of providing unique interpretations of the entities populating our complicated world.  

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