“The odyssey is not going out and seeing the world: it’s about trying to get home.” Pete Hamill
Does your life feel like an odyssey? What makes it such a journey? Does it work well for you or are there aspects that you need to change? What have you learned form it?
(Thanks to so many of you for such great “O” suggestions. Especially thanks to Marguerite for this topic. As a former English teacher, I couldn’t resist it. In the Comment area please leave me some topic suggestions for next week starting with “P.” Thanks!)
Most of us read “The Odyssey” in high school or college. Written by Homer, it was an epic poem about Odysseus wandering for ten years after the Trojan War, trying to get home. While most of us are not warriors, although some are, we all are traveling on the adventure of life.
An odyssey is defined as an intellectual or spiritual quest or an extended adventurous voyage or trip marked by many changes of fortune. Do any of these describe your path through life?
I found Pete Hamill’s quote very interesting because we often have to wander from the path we intended to live in order to discover our true selves.
Changes Offer Positive and Negative Experiences
In the 1970’s I was living in the Washington, D.C. area teaching dance part-time when a friend of mine told me that a college in the middle of Nebraska was hiring a dance teacher to set up a dance program. I knew nothing about Nebraska, but I needed a better income due to my divorce and was excited by the idea of creating a modern dance minor.
I accepted the position when they offered it to me. After the interview, an art teacher on the dance committee took me out to a bar in town where I discovered he was charming, funny, and a great dancer. I looked forward to getting to know him.
When I moved to Nebraska, I shared a house with community arts organizer and made two other wonderful women friends very quickly. I expected everyone to be as friendly as the few people I had originally met, but I soon discovered that people generally were very distant and rarely shared their feelings. No matter what I did I couldn’t break through those barriers.
The art teacher and I had become very close. I fell in love with him. Although he said he loved me, he said he needed to get out of the small town and move to Oregon. He needed to be alone to find himself. I continued to teach at the college, but I felt stifled in such a small place. I missed the diversity of a city. I knew Nebraska was not my true home.
New Experiences Help Us Grow
I moved to Denver because I could easily teach my own dance classes there and it appeared I might be able to get a part-time job at a college. Besides, the man I loved had to fly through Denver in order to see his parents in a small town near the state line, not far from Denver. It would be easy for him to stop and visit with me.
To some it may seem I wandered too much in the west, but the wandering was beneficial. As it turned out, making it convenient for my lover to see me never led to a commitment. However, Denver became a true home where I grew in many ways.
During my odyssey in Nebraska and Denver, places I would previously not have considered living, I grew enormously as a teacher and person. Especially in Denver, I felt I became more of who I truly was. Because of a Buddhist friend’s influence and a quarter of a semester teaching dance at the Naropa Institute, I decided to learn to meditate, a practice that expanded my spiritual life and benefitted my health.
I also made hiking friends and climbed to the top of huge mountains to be awed by God’s magnificent creations. I attended a Science of Mind church and studied its teachings. They helped me to pay more attention to the negative thoughts I allowed to control my thinking, and I learned how to release them.
These years were a time when my odyssey led me through trials and tribulations, taught me what I needed to let go of and what must become a part of me. This journey brought me home to who I truly am.
Unexpected Gifts Help Us Grow
Isn’t that what happens to so many of us? On our odyssey through life we come upon the unexpected many times. The world around us continues to change regardless of our choices and that often affects how we live and may force us to change. Each experience is an opportunity to learn a better way to live or to define clearly what we don’t want. We may have to change the path or destination we had planned, or the experience may reassure us that we are on the right path.
I’ve often moved to take a new job, be close to a friend or family, or be in a healthier location. There are negative and positive aspects to that, but there is one constant. Every situation is an opportunity to learn, to experience new people and cultures, and I am grateful because it has helped me understand my journey and other people’s life quests.
Now as I move into the last decades of my life, I feel at home, living as my true self in a place that is my soul’s home, with a man who is the partner for whom I always searched. My life isn’t perfect but it’s been a fascinating journey that has allowed me to become who I want to be.
May your odyssey guide you home.
© 2021 Georganne Spruce