“Zorba taught me to love life and have no fear of death…If it had been a question in my lifetime of choosing a spiritual guide, a guru as the Hindus say, a father as say the monks of Mount Athos, surely I would have chosen Zorba” (Nikos Kazantzakis).
I can’t recall when I first read Kazantzakis’ Zorba, The Greek, or when I first saw the movie, “Zorba.” I only know that it was a long time ago. I’ve read the book many times and seen the movie, with Anthony Quinn playing Zorba, a number of times. I’m not sure, even after the many readings and watching the film several times, if I have yet to comprehend fully the essence of Zorba.
Sam Keen, in his book, To A Dancing God, wrote of his own fascination with Zorba, in “For Zorba With Love:”
“Zorba, forever on my mind. I curse you and love you because I am what I am. You hold up a mirror to my sometimes too serious face. Like the boss, I think too much. But there is often dancing in my mind, ideas frolicking. Sometimes my body is moved. Yet I am a careful person, taking thought for the morrow. I don’t know how to care without being careful, ….But I long to release the gypsy in me who would roam the earth, tasting, sampling, traveling light. There are so many lives I want to live….In me sleeps Zorba… Perhaps Zorba will not leave me altogether. I would not like to live without dancing, without unknown roads to explore, without the confidence that my actions were helpful to some.”
Zorba, with his love for life, his gypsy spirit, his eagerness to comfort others, his freedom to be just who he was all the time, and his penchant to dance the dance of life, “is forever on my mind,” too. “In me sleeps Zorba,” but sometimes he awakes within me and shakes me awake to live fully, to laugh, to cry, to frolick, to dance, to sing, to toss aside the “careful” mode, and to explore unknown roads.
In me (and in you) sleeps Another, too. His name is Jesus. Like Zorba, he, too, calls me to see life as a party, a dance, a song—Good News! “I have come,” he said, “to give you abundant life!…Take no thought for the morrow….Be not afraid….Love one another…Do good.” Sometimes Jesus, like Zorba, awakes in me and shakes me awake as well, to party with him and to be all that I’m meant to be…including the Zorba within me!