Inspiration > Ithaca


Ithaca

The poem explores the issues of personal identity (finding oneself, finding yourself, find myself), authenticity, indigenous mythology, initiation, spirituality, life path/purpose, rites of passage, the hero's journey...and how these issues apply to how we live our lives today, our happiness and success levels. Topics also covered, include: Modern/Western thought and lifestyles...and how flawed and wasteful our current methods are (not just in terms of taxpayer dollars, but in terms of human beings/souls and the immeasurable cost to humanity of losing each of these people's unique and special gifts, talents and skills to our families, communities, and society). Alludes to life coaching to find one's true purpose/calling/path, especially when one's lost his or her way.

When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians (*)
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine emotion
touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Topics also covered, include: Modern/Western thought and lifestyles...and how flawed and wasteful our current methods are (not just in terms of taxpayer dollars, but in terms of human beings/souls and the immeasurable cost to humanity of losing each of these people's unique and special gifts, talents and skills to our families, communities, and society). Alludes to life coaching to find one's true purpose/calling/path, especially when one's lost his or her way. The poem explores the issues of personal identity (finding oneself, finding yourself, find myself), authenticity, indigenous mythology, initiation, spirituality, life path/purpose, rites of passage, the hero's journey...and how these issues apply to how we live our lives today, our happiness and success levels.

Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
to arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithaca means.

--  Constantine Cavafy  (translated by Rae Dalven)

(*)  Lestrygonians, Cyclopes and Poseidon are all "monsters," popular in Greek mythology.  The poet is telling us to not be afraid of these or other imaginary Gremlins, the voice of your inner critic/saboteur, etc.

See another translation of this poem and other inspiring writings...

The poem explores the issues of personal identity (finding oneself, finding yourself, find myself), authenticity, indigenous mythology, initiation, spirituality, life path/purpose, rites of passage, the hero's journey...and how these issues apply to how we live our lives today, our happiness and success levels. Topics also covered, include: Modern/Western thought and lifestyles...and how flawed and wasteful our current methods are (not just in terms of taxpayer dollars, but in terms of human beings/souls and the immeasurable cost to humanity of losing each of these people's unique and special gifts, talents and skills to our families, communities, and society). Alludes to life coaching to find one's true purpose/calling/path, especially when one's lost his or her way.