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  • Writer's pictureTricia Webster

Keep Asking and You Will Reach Constantinople / Rotondas kai stin Poli pas

In my travels through Greece with Theodosia, she will often share memorable expressions that really sound much better in Greek than English, and always pack a powerful life lesson! Over the years I have started to collect these unique expressions, and I'll begin here by sharing one of my favorites: Keep asking and you will reach Constantinople. It really sounds better in Greek though. Try it aloud and you'll see: Rotondas kai stin Poli pas.

I think I first heard Theodosia use this expression when we were trying to navigate the Cretan countryside. Invariably, we'd find ourselves driving through a village whose streets were so narrow we could reach out the car windows and pick fruit from overhanging trees, or washing from the line. Road signs were optional in most of these villages, so we'd use the only reliable GPS: people. This meant finding a taverna with a yiayia or pappous sitting outside with a coffee, leaning out the window of the vehicle and yelling "Signomi!" (excuse me). Then Theodosia would shout out her request for directions, there would be a lot of broad gestures and pointing, and we'd be on our way for another quarter mile down a narrow, village street, until we found yet another local to ask the same question.

Eventually, using this human GPS, we'd find our way through town and back on the road to wherever we were headed. Sometimes, we'd have to wait for a flock of sheep to yield the road to us. Or maybe we'd stop for a coffee ourselves. I don't really remember where we were going on most of these excursions, but it didn't really seem to matter, because we knew we'd eventually get to our Constantinople. And it really was about the journey, not the destination. Each bend in the road would yield another wonder, whether it be an ancient olive grove or a bearded goat, we were on Greek time, and it is always easier to be in the present moment in Greece than it seems to be in North America, my home.

The advice is sound: Ask enough questions. But I have always been loathe to ask questions, or to admit my lostness! Right now I am feeling a bit adrift (admit it, lost) in terms of having clear direction in areas I've been sure of for years: career and relationship. That I might find myself back in the realm of not knowing again can be terrifying, but it is comforting to know in my lostness that if I ask enough questions . . .

So maybe those questions are like the trail of breadcrumbs we follow to find our way through he forest. And maybe it is enough just to ask the questions, and not push for answers. My experience in Greece has been that being lost has its virtues.

It's good not to always be obsessing about where I am going next, and just trusting that I'm on that road to Constantinople. Eventually, I will get there, but that isn't nearly so important as the now of the journey, of this moment. Greece, with all her fine gifts, offers up moment after timeless moment. It is enough to keep asking the questions. The journey is all.

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