Monday, July 11, 2011
WHO WAS RIGHT: Zorba or the Old Man?
A few years ago, I became enamored with a book written by Nikos Kazantzakis. In its original Greek text it was known as, "THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALEXIS ZORBA". But, when it was translated into English, it became known as simply, "ZORBA THE GREEK". In about 1964 it was made into a movie by the same name which starred Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates.
When I was partially through reading the book for the second or third time, I came to the realization that, "ZORBA THE GREEK", was not just a work of fiction - it was also a book of philosophy. I should have realized this from the beginning, as Nikos Kazantzakis was also a great philosopher in addition to being a great writer.
At any rate, I have a question that I would like to pose to those of you who follow and read my blog. It is not a trick question...and it probably has no "right" or "wrong" answer. But I am seriously interested in what your response will be to my question.
At one point in the book, Zorba comes upon an old man who is planting an almond tree. Astonished, Zorba exclaims, "What? Grandpa! Planting an almond tree at your age?" Zorba was inferring that at the old man's age, he would never live to see the tree produce a single almond. The old man looked up at Zorba and replied, "My son, I live every day as if I shall never die." To which Zorba responded, "Hah! I live every day as if I shall die any minute!" I think the philosophical question raised is this: Which of them was right? The old man for saying that he lived every day as if he would never die? Or Zorba, for saying that he lived every day as if he would die any moment?
As I said earlier, there is no "right" or "wrong" answer. Please leave your answer, response or comment below by clicking the word that reads, "Comments", below. After several of you have left your answers (or comments), I will post my answer to the same question in the "Comments" section below. I do value your answers and comments! Thanks in advance for participating in this little survey.
Your Friend and Fellow "Silent Warrior",