For school last year, my son had to read one of the most epic journey stories of all time, Homer’s The Odyssey. This sweeping poem chronicles the hero Odysseus’ 10-year struggle to return home following the Trojan War. He battles with mystical creatures and faces the wrath of the gods in his determination to recapture his throne.
I remember reading this quite avidly during my own school years, of course with no cognizance that this tale, so full of magic and darkness and triumph, was really a symbolic rendering of the mission we all face in adulthood. We all have dragons we must slay, we all grapple with our relationships with the gods we believe in, we all have to struggle to find our sense of ourselves, of home. And even when (if) we are completely confident and settled in who we are, we will still have to fight to maintain our core values in the face of conflict, tragedy, heartbreak.
Life is an epic journey; facing each and every day takes courage and resolve.
But the truth is, for most of us, there are long periods of wandering and confusion. During these times, life feels not so much like a journey as a test that we are failing quite badly. Some regret where they have come from; others, many of us perhaps, wonder where we are going.
Time feels like an enemy, both dragging on endlessly and rushing us to our demise.
Ironically, it is not the dragon slaying that requires our steeliest nerves; it is the wandering. It is the fear of the unknown rather than fear of the concrete that drains us of faith, and sometimes of hope. We face our dragons defiantly and well-armed; we face the unknown trembling and unsure.
But as long as we keep moving forward, we are always on pace. That is one of the greatest mysteries of life; you can never fall behind as long as you continue to grow. Eventually you begin to understand the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong…but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
This month, we asked you to share a part of your personal journey with us; where you have been, where you are going, when you felt lost and when you were right on track. With the clarity of hindsight, most of us remember the various legs if not with fondness, at least with some reverence. As we continue to survive and develop, our appreciation for all life brings us develops as well.
In retrospect a “cruel” teacher can seems wise, a “bad” experience becomes fortuitous, a “burdensome” relative comically endearing. But then also grief can be a cleansing experience and great challenges a reaffirmation of our values and our strengths. The whole journey is imbued with deeper and richer meanings as we come through it all, come what may.
“Not all those who wander are lost”…that quote, from J. R. R. Tolkien, perhaps best encapsulates this journey we call life; we all wander sometimes, but like Odysseus most of us find our way back home again. Shareen and I hope you will wander our pages this month and enjoy the journey with us. As always, we are humbled and grateful for all that our writers share with us.
Bon voyage, Kara