A Light Soul
"When you set out on your way to Ithaca
you should hope that your journey is a long one:
a journey full of adventure, full of knowing.
Have no fear of the Laestrygones, the Cyclopes,
the frothing Poseidon. No such impediments
will confound the progress of your journey
if your thoughts take wing, if your spirit and your
flesh are touched by singular sentiments.
You will not encounter Laestrygones,
nor any Cyclopes, nor a furious Poseidon,
as long as you don’t carry them within you,
as long as your soul refuses to set them in your path.
Hope that your journey is a long one.
Many will be the summer mornings
upon which, with boundless pleasure and joy,
you will find yourself entering new ports of call..."
Ithaca by Constantine Cavafy is my life's battle cry. The above is only a small excerpt of this powerful poem (see full poem and various translations here). These words found me. They found me when I was in a foreign land beginning to tap into who I truly was as a person. It points out that I control many of the evils in my own life. It reminds me to embrace exploration and not wish away any moment, good or bad. The list goes on and will only continue to grow. Ithaca constantly brings about new lessons and reminds me of old ones.
I just returned from a memorable visit with my parents and their newly built life in Florida. This reunion, which doubled as vacation, was the ultimate definition of relaxing. It was refreshing and re-energizing. Leading up to that week, however, my nonstop mind got the best of me. I took on too much in my personal life and it all came to a head one day. It is my biggest fault... trying to do too much, spread myself too thin. Most of us have been in this position once, twice or a hundred times. I need to be better at saying "no." It is better to do one thing great, than a forty things good. It is better to keep my soul light.
When I needed it most, this poem provided the calm. Saying the words aloud helped slowly lift the tension and anxiety from my shoulders. "...the Laestrygones, the Cyclopes, the frothing Poseidon...," I no longer carried them in my soul. Parallel with with poem, I strolled a new port only a couple days later. It may have been because St. Augustine's beauty cannot be overlooked. It may have been because I was elated to be exploring with my family or that my eyes were a bit wider due to my recent down and out spout. Either case, every nook and cranny, from the Spanish-inspired architecture to hidden mosaics to the overflowing history, was entrancing. Ithaca, once again, was right. With my trusty trolley sticker adorned on my chest and high SPF, this quaint city, the oldest European-established city in the United States, provided me with limitless inspiration and reinvigorated my spirit.