Updated: Sep 8, 2020
I was lucky enough to travel to Greece last year on a family holiday with my mother and brother, we visited Skiathos, Mykonos and Athens. Skiathos is the most wonderful quaint little island, it's humble but beautiful, boasting crystal clear blue waters and lush green trees sprinkled with delightfully pink Bougainvillea's. The holidaymakers there are predominantly middle-class English, and Greeks from Athens with a few South Africans and Australians scattered about, definitely not the Jet set crowd you will find in Mykonos.
On our last night in Skiathos, I walked up a path that led up to the top of a hill where a fortress once stood. The moon shone brilliantly on the ocean as the waves gently caressed the shore.
There was the most enchanting sound, a melody that called to me one note at a time. As I turned around the bend I saw a man sitting ever so quietly playing this remarkable little instrument which I found out later, was a tang drum. He played with a smile on his face, so contently and peacefully. Every note poured out of him with integrity and honesty, it was so pure and his calm and centred energy drew me closer.
The gentle melody soon had me entranced as if it was whispering to my soul, speaking a language I had long forgotten. I felt like I was home.
I was intrigued by this man, he was for sure a disciple of my ancient Levantine descendants with his dark brown eyes and tanned olive skin that looked a little weathered from the harsh sun, but his eyes were kind and his beard was long with wisdom. Was he homeless? Was he a vagabond musician, a free-spirited hippie that decided to spend his days and nights next to the ocean? My curiosity was killing me and I had to find out a little more so I went over to speak to him about his wonderful little instrument and asked, how long he had been playing? His name was Emannuel, he told me that he was given this drum as a gift, he plays for it brings him joy and peace. Those who are in tune to the vibration, those that are seekers will stop in their tracks and just like me will want to engage with him. But there are also those people that walk on by, they do not hear the music. " I watch all of these people, walking by, just existing in their lives like a movie, It's all a facade they don't know what's real and what is a lie, what this life is truly about," he said. Being closer to him now I couldn’t help but notice that perhaps this man was, in fact, homeless as his body odour wasn’t the most appealing. So I asked him, " Is this your home?" do you sleep here by the ocean under the stars on your mat protecting your drum and money earned, is being a busker how you survive? He told me, "yes where on earth would I rather be, I have the stars over my head and I fall asleep and wake up to the oceans sound every day. Sometimes I play and it brings him money, more than enough to eat, yesterday I ate bread which was simple but good, but today was so wonderful I ate such delicious food, one of the restaurant owners gave me salad, meat and bread and cheese, life is so good. After all what else do I need?" At this point, I’m not going to lie the thought crossed my mind if this was perhaps my new Greek guru I was talking to or if this man was delusional and suffered from a mental illness. It is a fine line, between extraordinary and insanity. I got a whiff of his body odour once more and had to ask "don't you miss a hot shower?" He answered " sometimes, I mean it would be nice to present myself a little better to talk to a beautiful woman like yourself, but I'm ok, I swim in the ocean and shower on the beach” My mother came over at that point and asked me for 5 euros to get an ice cream before I could even put my hand in my purse he had already given her 5 euros from the coins on his mat. She insisted that she couldn’t possibly take his money, and he insisted that she must, "It would be an honour for me to give them to you and bring you joy", he said. At this point, I was completely blown away. He told me how many people come and talk to him, especially the really rich ones who ask him, " How are you so happy and content with nothing, and I have everything but I am miserable and empty inside" He told me he had been to Mykonos and despises it and the arrogant materialistic assholes there, "but whatever you despise in another is some reflection of yourself, you have to love those you despise to come to peace with that part which lies within you" find compassion for we are all connected. I asked him about his life and how he came here "To do Gods work" as he put it. " I used to be like the arrogant assholes in Mykonos, I had money, I used to drink, take drugs, had many women, I was a hedonist. One day I became very ill, I ended up in the hospital for over a month, no one visited me, not my party friends, not my women, not my family. I was alone and I thought I might die alone. That was the wake-up call I needed. I knew my life had to change, I prayed to God that he spare my life and in doing so I would be his servant." I asked, " But why can't you still help people and have a roof over your head, a shower and a warm bed to sleep in?" He replied; "I am happier with nothing, with no attachments, I am out here, for the people to meet me, they see my simplicity, they see my genuine appreciation for life, with nothing, this is what I am meant to teach, this is Gods work, teach those who seek, how to find it all within" He told me, to never lie "if you meet a person and you are not that fond of them, do not pretend as if you like them, don't tell them we should get together if you have no intention to, and don't smile and think what an asshole, because that person can read your mind pick up on your energy and they probably think the same of you. So what's the point in lying, just speak your truth, or don't speak at all. I told him a story, about a time in my life where I was singing on a 3-month contract in Malta, my first summer there I enjoyed the frivolities of the party scene, getting preened to the max for pool parties, drinking, socialising on a very superficial level where let's be honest, everyone becomes your best friend after two or three drinks. The second summer was different, something had shifted in me, I no longer saw the point in drinking, and connecting only superficially under the influence. I withdrew and went on a spiritual quest to figure out what this meant for me, am I not fun anymore? have I become a bore? What do I do now? I started listening to some great spiritual teachers like Wayne Dyer and became rather introspective. I started to practice the principle of "love thy neighbour as thyself" I was filled with a sense of joy and could feel my vibration had lifted. I was on my flight home to Cape Town and I sat next to a working-class Philipino man, I took out a sweet in my bag and offered him one too as a kind gesture, the man immediately mistook my kindness as having another agenda and proceeded to harass me telling me how he wanted to be with me intimately ( in a vulgar manner). I got such a shock that I called the air hostess to move me to another seat. It suddenly dawned on me, as a woman in this world we can't let our guard down and be nice to everyone as we could give the wrong impression of "flirting" to some men, this popped my idealistic bubble instantly. When I asked the Greek about my predicament. He told me. "Don't give unless someone asks, Why did you give to him?" I said, "Because I wanted to be kind" "And why do you want to be kind? to serve your own needs, to make yourself feel good for doing something for another. So don't give unless asked, or you might end up in these precarious situations," he said.
At this point, my mother and brother left me to talk to him alone. We walked alongside the cafe's by the beach and up the steep alleyways on the opposite side of where we were. Again being a woman, my fight or flight kicked in, as here I was with this strange man, in a dark area going into unknown territory, but some part of me, my gut told me it would be ok. He took me to the top of another hill overlooking the most incredible view of the island, the moon was almost full and lit up the night sky and glistened on the ocean. there was one little house on a cliff with a single tree under the big bright moon, it looked like a postcard. we sat on some cobblestone steps and carried on talking for the next 2 hours.
Have you ever met someone who you felt can read your thoughts and look into your soul? Well, Emmanuel could. He told me "The Biggest lesson you are going to learn, is to surrender your ego, to let go, you need to get in touch with your essence again and essentially become "nobody" (just like my new found teacher Joe Dispenza says, Becoming No-Thing No-One, that's when we can raise our consciousness and become a new mind) He told me, "Your artform is your curse, it will give you a superiority complex, you need to see it as divinity flowing through you, a gift, remember you are nobody" I told him my fears, of not finding love and a partner to share this journey with. he said, "You are very smart, your vibration is very high, you want someone who will excite you, but you might not find them, it ill be hard for you to find someone on your level or higher, who can also be your teacher. You have to let it go, if you are meant to travel this journey alone then so be it and if you are meant to meet someone to join you, you will. it is beyond your control, so surrender it." "You also need to steady your emotions, you are addicted to the adrenaline, you need to find a way to balance your energies and stay centred and calm to create harmony within you in the mundane day to day life and the exciting times. "You know all these things Danielle, I am just here to remind you, you know what to do and if you don't, you will when the time comes, as many lessons are coming your way," He said. It was 1 am and I felt it was time to depart, we walked down the hill and I told him what a privilege it was to have met him. I knew something had shifted in me, I knew that going to Mykonos the next day would be a very different experience now that I had returned to a part of me I had neglected for some time. It was a crazy encounter, and at the time I never imagined that in 5 months from then I would be presented with this diagnosis, embarking on a journey that would change my perspective on life. How I perceive myself, how the world perceives me, how I would find a calling to write, and in sharing my vulnerability allowing others to do the same and connect on such a deeper level. Isn't that what we are all starving for, a deeper connection to each other and ourselves. In a world that is so technologically connected, we are so disconnected as we are consumed in the rat race of existence, productivity, productivity, productivity! We have to do more, we have to look busy, god forbid we take a nap, we have become so lost on the hamster wheel of life. I have noticed that now that we have time, we are forced to get off that wheel, we are video calling each other, before we would just text, we are having more meaningful conversations, opening up and sharing our deepest fears and desires. It is a beautiful thing. I listened to a Kabbalistic rabbi last night who said, we are now forced to sit with ourselves, everything we have been running away from, whether it be your partner you are disconnected from, your kids driving you mad, not being able to be by yourself, now is the time that we need to deal with these things, we are given the time to work through them, and only when we do, can we awaken out of our slumber to our fullest potential. People asked him is the Messiah coming? He said we have had worse things happen in history compared to the Coronavirus, and even then the Messiah did not come. If we are looking for external salvation we might wait our whole lives and subsequently feel utter disappointment for our saviour might not appear to us. Rather than thinking the Messiah is a man/being/relationship coming to save us, imagine that the Messiah is within you, by doing the inner work, you are awakening and raising your vibration to a higher consciousness so that collectively we (the Messiah) may save ourselves. Sending you much Love, Strength and Perfect Health Dani