While reading the last chapter in Dan Buettner‘s book ‘9 lessons for living longer’ I strongly felt the need to share a part of the chapter with you. A story about a Greek man named Stamatis Moraitis. The below is a summary of the first three pages of the chapter The Greek Blue Zone out of Dan Buettner’s book:
After World War II about 250.000 people from Greece immigrated to the United States. One of them was Stamatis Moraitis. He came from the island Ikaria. Stamatis came to the United States seeking treatment for his hand, which was mangled in a munitions accident. But he decided to stay. He got a job painting schools and houses. He quickly gained a reputation for honesty and good work ethic. Opportunity and higher pay took him to Ohio and then to Boynton Beach, Florida, where he once painted Rose Kennedy’s house. Later on he married Elpiniki, a Greek American woman and had three children. He achieved ‘the American dream’.
They gave him six to nine months to live..
In his early 60’s he felt short of breath and fatigued quickly. His doctor concluded that he had lung cancer, perhaps from years of inhaling paint fumes and his three-pack-a-day smoking habit. They gave him six to nine months to live..
Stamatis decided to go back to Ikaria to die among his countrymen and ancestors. He and his wife moved in with Stamatis’s elderly parents in a tiny, whitewashed house on two acres of rolling vineyards outside the town of Agios Kirikos on the island’s eastern coast. At first, he spent his days in bed, as his mother and wife tented to him. Sensing the end was near, he decided to reconnect with his religion. On Sunday mornings, he forced himself out of the house and hobbled up the hill to a tiny Greek Orthodox chapel where his grandfather had once served as a priest. When his childhood friends discovered that he had moved back, they started visiting him regularly. They would talk for hours, invariably bringing him the locally produced wine, which he sipped all day long. What the hell, he thought, I might as well die happy.
In the ensuing months, something strange happened. He started to feel stronger. He got out of bed in the afternoon and shuffled around the gardens and vineyards behind the house. One day, feeling ambitious, he planted some potatoes, green onions, garlic, and carrots. He didn’t expect to be alive to harvest them, but he enjoyed feeling the sunshine, breathing the clean ocean air, and getting his hands dirty with the soil of his birth.
Six months came and went. Stamatis didn’t die. Instead, he harvested that garden and cleaned up the family vineyard as well. Easing himself into the island routine, he woke up late, worked in the vineyards until mid-afternoon, made himself lunch, and then took a long nap. In the evenings, he either drank wine with friends at home or walked to the local tavern where he stayed up past midnight playing dominoes.
The years passed. His health continued to improve. He added a couple of rooms to his parents’ homestead so his children could visit. He built up the vineyard, producing 400 gallons of wine a year. Today (of course, when the book was written), 35 years later, he is 100 years old and cancer-free. He never went through chemotherapy, took drugs, or sought therapy of any sort. All he did was move to Ikaria.
I hope this story made you think about life just as much as it did to me.
Have a wonderful evening everyone.