Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Our journey back to Ithaka

Back to work again my virtual friends. Summer holidays were very nice. I could hear my son laughing at the other end of the swimming pool –first year that he could actually swim alone- while I drank a nice rosé and read a few good books.

Two of them were The Iliad and The Odyssey. The latter epic details the adventures of Odysseus on the journey home from the war and the troubles he finds in Ithaka when he arrives there.

During the 10 year journey from Troy back to Ithaka, Odysseus had many encounters that prolonged his journey home. He has to free his men from the Lotus-Eaters, the Cyklops giant, Polyphemus, and the enchantress Kirke. He traveled to the underworld, where he receives valuable information to help him continue his trip home.

This new knowledge that he received helped him to have a safe passage from the Sirens, Scylla, and Charybdis. But, he could not save his crew when they violated commandments by slaughtering and eating the cattle of the sun god. Through this action their ship was struck by a thunderbolt and only Odysseus survived. He swam on the island of the nymph Kalypso, where he became her lover, was held prisoner, and lived there for seven years. He built a raft and sailed for Ithaka, but once again he ran into Poseidon's furious storm and was shipwrecked on the island of the Phaiakians where he told his tale of wandering at a banquet in the palace. After his fabulous tale, he was allowed onboard a Phaiakian ship, given untold riches, and deposited, sleeping, on his home island.

Once he returned home, he still had problems. After being gone for twenty years, Penelope had remained faithful. But the palace was occupied by a group of suitors who were waiting on Penelope to pick one of them to marry. Odysseus arrived at the palace disguised as a beggar and saw everything in disarray. He slaughters the suitors and cleansed the palace before Penelope sees all the blood and bodies. But, then he had to deal with the anger families of the suitors. But Athena stepped in and told the people of Ithaka that there would be peace and that the King of Ithaka was home.

The parallels I found, while reading the book, with our lives – or at least mine- were striking. Aren’t we all on a journey back to our own Ithaka and don’t we all have to face many endeavors along the way? We have to fight our demons, we get struck by thunderbolts and fall in love with a nymph on an unexpected moment (and then become a prisoner in love too, huh, say what? :-)

Question that remains: Will we find our Ithaka in distress and occupied by a group of suitors once we arrive? Will we get frustrated and have remorse of not having lived life to the max? Or will we realize just in time that it’s the journey that matters and ENJOY THE NOW?

You tell me…