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…


tina said...

Beautiful thoughts!

Gary said...

You're back and I can tell you're feeling mellow, tanned, relaxed and philosophical - Odysseus indeed! Now get back to work and get stressed like the rest of us, you slacker :)

As for Homer and the Odyssy - there are two cool things to do to enjoy that story - one is rent the DVD Oh Brother Where Art Thou? (take off on the Odyssy and great film and music).

Margaret Attwood has just written a book from the viewpoint of Penelope, who of course, had to wait around 10 years while her man acted out his boyish revenge and adventure fantasy. (The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus)

Glad you had such a nice time with your son bro.

Lindsay Lobe said...


Well Its back to work for you.

Speaking about reading I remember some time ago you expressed keen interest in Corporate sustainability and any link back to local interests.

Hence when I read about Sandrijin Weites commenting on behalf of ABN Ambro,in the Netherlands I thought it would be of interest to you. He is responsible for formulating the overall strategy on sustainability for the bank worldwide . He is a member of Royal NIRVA .

I like his ideas ‘Reported in the publication IFAC-International Federation of Accountants –August Paper on –At The Heart of Sustainability

I thought you might even like to make contact with him, seeing he is the same industry. Anyway here are some of his quotes that amy be of interest.

" To live our corporate values and business principles and to meet the needs of the organisation and our stakeholders, thus seeking to protect, sustain and enhance, natural and financial capital needed in the future."
For Weites this the key "It enables you to be accountable and transparent and to look in the Mirror”.

"We focus on 6 key areas, Transparent and accountable. Protecting your assets, providing responsible financial services, being an employer of choice, minimizing the impact in the environment and supporting local communities."

"Until about 2 years ago I was unaware of the drive to hire more women, more handicapped people, more people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. But now I see you need them because the people in your company should reflect the society you live in. Two or three years ago no one talked in these terms. But now they do and that has enabled us to do a better job."

"We have 500 meetings with NGO ’s annually".

"Rating agencies, for example, value our sustainability and corporate governance activities he noted"!!

Best wishes

sophie said...

journey that matters -
living life and being ALIVE

Ingrid said...

Ditto on the 'Oh brother where art thou'.. imagine seeing George Clooney (I am not a Clooney fan) and suspending all disbelief. It was very humerous and yes, a nice 'modern' version of the Odyssy. Mind you, I like most films by the Coen brothers. Lindsay, interesting quotes. You seem to know so much where ever I find you commenting..are you with your nose in books all day??? (I know you don't). Well Dimitri, so much for light holiday reading! If I'd be reading those books, I'd be off by myself and I could not do anything with the kids around even if my husband tag teamed and watched them. Murder mystery is more my thing or political non fiction.. well, murder all the same, ha!
Speaking of living life to the fullest. Steve Irwin's death really effected me. Not because I am a Steve Irwin fan, but he kinda epitomized living life enthusiastically and living in the moment didn't he? That quality in him was something I always longed to have, 'coveted', if you will. So to answer your original question.. I am not living the way I should or would want to. I am making small steps towards it realizing as well, that it's not only in the application of how I live that is important, but my attitude/outlook.. gotta make some changes there too..

jd said...

Welcome back DA. So much for light holiday reading. You clearly got more out of the book then when I read it for the first time while I was in graduate school. I remember liking the phrase "rosy-fingered dawn" and being incredibly hungry everytime they broke out the bread and wine to feast.

Granny said...

Adding my voice to the chorus. O Brother Where Art Thou is one of my favorites as well.

Mary said...

What a lovely post DA. Your holiday served you well. I will try to enjoy the journey today.

ian russell said...

i read that the ancient greeks always favoured looking back; a life's journey, travelling backwards. personally, i would hope never to see my ithaka again.

enjoy the now: we always assume that the now is an enjoyable place? i think the truth is we live simultaneously in the past, present and future, the amount of each depending on our needs for happiness. well, that's how i do it anyway - lol. ;o)

Nova said...

I too would not want to go back to my Ithaka. I can reflect upon it from time to time, even miss it perhaps, but I am glad that the journeys I have completed are done, and I look forward to new journeys to take and try to live life in the fullest from day to day.

Vee said...

I agree that we are all on our own separate journeys. Each one's destination is different. I find that I can't relate it to the Odyssey at all, because I erm, can't stand it. Although now I'm very curious to read Attwood's Penelopiad. Anyway, welcome back Dimitri.

Tina said...

We're both on a cosmic journey of sorts this summer with our chosen literature, Dimitri (albeit separated by maaaaany miles). I dug out my Riverside Shakespeare and reread his sonnets umpteen times and pondered the loves I've lost, the loves I've tossed, and the loves I've kept, and I also fell in love all over again with my Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Now that Autumn is upon us, it will be time to dig out my massive horror collections and spook myself with a glass of warmed cider in front of the wood burning stove while a sleeping kiddo, Hubby, and kitty give me peaceful company around the fire.

Sothis said...

I love the Greek myths and stories--extremely archetypal. We discover ourselves through that journey--Odysseus is a great example of that.

I agree with Tina about the autumn and horror stories. I need to dig out my H.P. Lovecraft. We've just about finished unpacking (it's only been a year ;) and I should be able to find them now.

Lesley said...

Lovely post! Welcome back!

Haider Droubi said...

i think we should enjoy the now...

Josie said...

I had this same conversation with my daughter today. It takes a lifetime to learn serenity and inner peace, and to understand that all we have is today, so we must enjoy it and live it to the fullest.

Glad you enjoyed your vacation.


BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Been awhile since I have been hear, but as usual, your thoughts are enchanting.

Glad to hear you and your family had a lovely summer holiday. May the rest of the year be equally rewarding for you!

Belizegial said...

Dimitri, welcome back :)

Thanks for this brief synopsis of the Odyssey. Is this why we have the 7-year itch? Are we cursed forever by Odysseus' ill fated 7-year liaison with the nymph Kalypso? lol, just kidding.

Glad to know you had a restful vacation with your family and that your cafe is once again open.


abhay k said...

What a wonder journey Odysseus had!A journey without these elements within is no journey at all. We are all lucky to go through this journey. Imagine sitting in Ithaka and getting bored!
What is important is the journey my friend not the destination...destinations are usually empty.
its great you are back!

tina said...

I think most of us (myself included) don't focus enough on the journey. We're so anxious to get where want (or think we want) to go that the beauty of the now can be lost in the shuffle. Someone once said to me that "whether it seems like it or not you are, right at this moment, exactly where you need to be." I try to remember that when I feel like I'm not reaching my goals fast enough. It's good, also, to try and think of your objectives as already being reality--they're out there, in your future, and you simply have to keep the path to reach them. Anyway, Dimitri, it sounds like a nymph ensnared you in the past somewhere ;)...but there must be a Penelope waiting for you as well.

Shaneena said...

Welcome back!
And I must say WOW! The Iliad, and Odyssevs... heavy stuff...! I myself are occupied reading Terry Pratchet at the moment... hilarious...!! ("Hogfather")

On the subject of our own Ithaka and what we will find there... and when... There is a norwegian writer who once said (directly translated;) "All these days that came and went, not did I know that they were life."

These words have more than once guided me through my decisions of what path to turn to...!

By the way... I'll be in Amsterdam during new years celebrations...!