ithaca, or, slow possibilities in the same direction

“Always keep Ithaca on 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 many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.”

‘”Day by day, stone by stone
Build your secret slowly […]
If you want to live life free
Take your time go slowly.
If you want your dream to be
Take your time, go slowly.”**

Life invites us to make a journey for some eighty years or so.

We each have different ideas and/or hopes for where we might be at the end it.  I imagine most of us hope that we will have lived a worthwhile life and that it will have been filled with love.

Constantine Cavafy’s words encourage us to explore the riches of the journey.  These may occur by happy accident but are more likely to come about by learning how to experience more.  The following words come from Donovan Leitch – those of us who are older will remember when he was simply Donovan – highlighting how slowness is an important part of discovering more about life.

Seth Godin has just been blogging on sailing and it feels like a poem:

‘A sailboat without a sail might float.
For a long time, in fact.
But without a sail, it can’t go anywhere, can’t fulfil its function.
Floating is insufficient.’^

This sail is the purpose we want to pursue.  We may have tried different sails only to find they don’t “sail our boat” the way we want.  Coincidently Hugh Macleod remarks on how, when it comes to what we want to do with our lives, ‘there’s a lot more freedom to roam, we’re lacking in guidance.’^^  We need “navigators” to help us identify just the right sail we want to move our boat – we can be such navigators for one another.

When you have your sail then you require some rules, to keep us on course, and a floating-only life.  Speaking in 2004 aerospace engineer Burt Rutan remarks on how the rules for guiding times towards creating a reusable passenger space craft helped the participating teams reach the target:

“It’s amazing that the rules for the XPRIZE are still valid today, nearly eight years after they were announced in 1996.”*^

Rules are about how we’ll engage in life.  There are general rules we figure out with each other and there are the specific ones only we can identify for the journeys we make, helping us to do what we must do every day until our days run out.

(*From Constantine Cavafy‘s Ithaca, quoted by Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)
(** From Donovan Leitch’s Little Church, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(^From Seth Godin’s blog Without a Sail.)
(^^From gapingvoid’s Navigation systems ready.)
(*^Burt Rutan, quoted in Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)


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