Kalo mina! It’s the first day of May–or as we Greeks call it, Protomaia or the Feast of the Flowers. Here in New York it’s been a long, long winter. Every time it started to warm up, it would start snowing. After we had one big snowstorm, a robin, that ephemeral symbol of spring, chirped on top of a construction rod as if to say it was tired of the cold weather too. Now, at last the days are longer, and pink flowers are blooming in Spanish Harlem.
During the winter, people always tell me that they’re sure I must wish I was in Greece during the cold season. Yes, we have palm trees in Greece–my dad is obsessed with plants!–but the country doesn’t have a tropical climate year-round. It actually snowed in Greece this year, as you can see from Yannis Behrakis’ stunning photos of a snow-topped Acropolis.
Perhaps this year, more than ever, Greeks are celebrating May Day. Traditionally heralded by picnics and flower collecting, Protomaia announces the start of spring. And with spring comes rebirth. A new beginning. A fresh start.
We could all use that.
“Skillful pilots gain their reputation
from storms and tempest.”
So here’s a fun fact I just read this week, via Yahoo: Ted Leonsis was the very first person to ever sent an AOL instant message.
If you don’t know who Ted Leonsis is here’s a quick run-down of just some of his achievements:
- He was a senior AOL executive for 13 years
- He is the co-CEO of Groupon
- He is a founding member of the Revolution Growth Fund
- He is the majority owner of the Washington Capitals, the Washington Mystics, and the Washington Wizards
- He’s on the Board of Directors for American Express
- He produced the award-winning documentary Nanking
- He is the author of The Business of Happiness
- He was born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in Lowell, MA
- He currently lives in Potomac, MD, at Marwood, previously owned by Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph P. Kennedy, and Al Gore
- He mentors through the Hoop Dreams program
Successful people are often thought of as ruthless and privileged, but Ted Leonsis is a self-made millionaire who follows his heart. This is the promotional copy for The Business of Happiness:
When the plane he was on prepared for a crash landing, Ted Leonsis asked himself the crucial question, If today is my last day on earth—will I die happy?. . . and realized the answer was no. Despite having achieved massive business success—he was a self-made multi-millionaire at the age of twenty-seven—he realized he would die unfulfilled. He told God that if he survived, he would turn his life around, give back more than he took, and pursue happiness. After walking off that plane, he got to work.
And while I mentioned Nanking above, I should also point out that his other documentaries are equally about social justice. Kicking It is a documentary narrated by Colin Farrell about the issue of homelessness, and A Fighting Chance tells the motivational story of Kyle Maynard, a wrestler who was born without arms and legs.
Ted Leonsis and the stories he helps get to the public are examples that no matter what our circumstances we are all capable of achievement.
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled
but a fire to be kindled.”
“If you wish to be a writer, write.”
“This worked out perfectly for me in college, because what nineteen-year-old Virginia boy doesn’t want a wide-hipped, sarcastic Greek girl with short hair that’s permed on top? What’s that you say? None of them want that? You are correct.”
~ Tina Fey in Bossypants
“We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest.
We must learn to sail in high winds.”
“A person needs a little madness,
or else they never dare cut the rope and be free.”
“I am not an Athenian or a Greek,
but a citizen of the world.”
“Artists, like the Greek gods, are only revealed to one another.”
~ Oscar Wilde