ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE (on-going)
I grew up with a deeply religious Greek grandmother, whose favorite parables about life had primarily to do with God and paradise. I was fascinated by the idea of the existence of a place where harm, immorality and mischief didn’t belong to and where beauty is experienced in every shape and form. I longed for discovering more versions of it as well as happiness beyond limit. Therefore, I kept thinking that as long as I am behaving within a frame of a certain norm, I would be among the chosen ones to enter Paradise. How nonsovereign did this feel… Where was my own will, my understanding of love, my views on life? Restless voices in my head, people I met along the way and lessons I’ve learned, drove me into reconsidering my interpretation of paradise.
From a very raw perspective, earth is anything but paradise for the vast majority of the humanity. It is a place of suffering for millions living in poverty and terror, an illusionary bubble for those few unduly wealthy, and a place of despair for the rest of us seeing our only home getting destroyed by reckless and divisive decision makers. In order to justify those unspeakable means on earth, the concept of the after-life, aeon paradise comes into play, which is presented as the only salvation from all this suffering. I profoundly felt that something is wrong with this conception and I wondered if we were missing the point all along. If we are so sure that heaven exists, why don’t we go there today?
From a scientific standpoint, we are all here by chance. A very deliberate, highly sophisticated chance, which brings everything into existence. Astonishing nature, beautiful creatures and inspiring people make it all worth living. As far as we know today, earth is the only place in the visible universe in which life, as we know it, exists. Nevertheless, we long for the afterlife pleasures in paradise, while simultaneously ignoring and diminishing the paradise-equivalent treasures of earth. This belief of a better place beyond earth doesn’t allow us to live our lives to their full depth and dimension, because it dictates that real life is elsewhere. We are blinded by the fear of our lifespan’s transience and therefore we anticipate the reassuring feeling aroused by the promise of the eternal afterlife. Although life is larger than us, we are privileged and fortunate to be here. Here is the home of arts, of love, of ours and of everything known to us; yet we keep looking for a paradise beyond earth, which we don’t have any proof of.
Those thoughts and feelings brought me out to the road of seeking the real paradise. Let me tell you, it’s not only one place. Paradise is the blooming nature that gives you the feeling of wholeness; the starry night sky that inspires you to discover more about your own existence; those very special people you meet along the way, who are remapping your emotional territory; the feelings of fulfillment as you get closer to your real self; all those time constraint moments of bliss and gratitude which transcend to eternity. As the Greek poet Tasos Livaditis had figured: “...People start existing from the moment they find a place in the lives of others...”.
All these made me conclude that paradise is here and now and subjective to one’s experiences, openness of heart and, above all, determination to find it. Explosive surrealism, intense colors and unique traits are some of the elements which for me highlight authenticity of life and living beyond the narrow limits of a belief. I consider those pictures to draw a bigger and more complete picture of paradise on earth.