#64 in search of ithaca

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.

Itacha, C P Cavafy

I came across this poem in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and it’s a rather appropriate way to end a good trip. As mentioned in an earlier post, I feel that when people travel, they are more or less searching for something. Some search for adventures, some search for an escape while others search for comfort. Some people search for bigger things such as meaning and happiness. What am I actually searching for? What propels me to pack my bag and travel?

I know the obvious answer is that I want to escape. I want to escape from day-to-day realities and routines that stifle me. I also want to forge my own identity and know who I am and what I can be. I want to push myself out of the comfort zone and know my limits (both physical as well as inter-personal). I also want to gain a broader perspective of things and be humbled through the process.

But these are tangible gains. I get that everytime I pack my bag and travel. What is the ithaca that I am seeking? Do I have an ideal in mind that I am reaching for but I know I may not get there?

After some thinking (by the way, where is a more appropriate place to think deeply about things than in the city which has seen so many great Western philosophers?) It may be that I am looking for an ideal way of life. So I travel and see how different people in different places deal with things and see if I can learn something from it. I will never reach a conclusion on the best way to lead my life. but every time I look at someone who is doing something differently from me and question my own way of doing things, I learn from them. Through this process, I learn about what I want and what I don’t want in my life. Getting out of comfort zone is essentially for me to learn about what I can live without and whether some things are essential in my life. For exampe, in Bolivia, I didn’t have wifi or even reception on my mobile phone for 4 days and it’s through that I learnt that I wasn’t completely dependent on my phone. In this trip, I made it a point to uninstall Facebook and Instagram and I realised I could live without the constant distraction from social media. I used to leave my house only with my ear phones but I realized I could go two weeks without ear phones and listening to music on the go.

It’s my hope that I will become a better person through all these experiences.

Always keep Ithaca fixed in my mind.


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