When a Journey is more than a trip . . .

My Journey is about to begin. I leave in a few days’ time. I have come to call it simply Journey in my head, rather than the journey, it has become a thing.  Journey. Perhaps because it encapsulates so much more than merely a ‘trip’ – It has more meaning than that to me.

As I have been preparing to go I have been touched by the gifts I have received from family, friends and other well-wishers. They have been thoughtful, clever and innovative. They have used their imagination to think of JUST the useful thing to take away with me, or JUST the right book by another pilgrim, or JUST the perfect, beautiful item to gladden my heart when far from home. I understand of course that much like the song ‘they’re really saying I love you.’

I have also found that for some people the idea of this Journey has touched something deep within them, a dream perhaps, of a similar road journey (in which camper vans seem to feature prominently) or the idea of being free of responsibility, if only for a while. For these their excitement and participation, for example sending considerate lists of what they would not like to forget, seem to be a way that they can join in and journey vicariously.   They are welcome to come along.

One special gift has been that of poetry and the poems I have received have delighted me.

A very dear friend sent me ‘Ithaca’ by C.F. Cavafy. Constantine Cavafy was Greek and lived from 1863 to 1933, mostly in Alexandria. He wrote reams of poetry but quite privately and, sadly, as is so often the case, his work gained in popularity only after his death. There are many different translations of Ithaca, here is one.     If you already know the poem you might still like to listen to Sean Connery reciting it accompanied by music from Vangelis. Go on, treat yourself.  

Ithaca is about a Journey, and was apparently inspired by Homer’s account of Odysseus’s voyage home, but it is of course about the journey we all take through Life.

It is magnificent, timeless advice to any traveller on their road.

 

 

Ithaca

As you set out for Ithaca hope that your journey is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops, angry Poseidon – do not be afraid of them: you’ll never find things like that on your way as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, as long as a rare sensation touches your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops, wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them unless you bring them along inside your soul, unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope that your journey is a long one. May there be many summer mornings when, with what pleasure, what joy, you come into harbours seen for the first time; may you stop at Phoenician trading stations to buy fine things, mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony, sensual perfume of every kind – as many sensual perfumes as you can; and may you visit many Egyptian cities to learn and learn again from those who know.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind. Arriving there is what you’re destined for. But do not hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so that you’re old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you have gained on the way, not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvellous journey. Without her you would not have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.

  *      *     *     *

And just because it looks so beautiful on the eye here is a link to the original  Greek  :   C.P.Cavafy ‘Ithaca’.

 

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