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Trusting the journeys we take
Those that know me, know that travel and adventure rank high on my list of priorities. This past summer, however, I found myself completely unraveling in Fethiye, a beautiful seaside town on the coast of Turkey. I had been away from home for six long weeks, five in Tunisia, one in Turkey. We’d seen some beautiful places, stayed in lovely hotels, even rented a boat, and yet there were feelings of disappointment running through me.
I missed my house, my friends, my community. It felt like too much time away from home, too much time away from the people and things that grounded me. Travel didn’t seem the same anymore, didn’t hold the same luster it always had.
Had becoming a mother changed me this radically? I was no longer the girl consuming new lands, new experiences, new people. As a mother with a young daughter, I stood in a place where I didn't care anymore about finding the hippest spot or the coolest experience. My tired, hungry, out-of-sorts two-year-old had taken priority, and I was exhausted. I did not recognize myself.
What I did recognize, though, was that my journey was no longer about the place. No longer about the where, the outside. I had to go inward. If I could take care of my inner state of being, everything would flow better. I would be a more pleasant person to be around. I needed to start with myself, regardless of where I found my feet planted.
I wrote in my journal, something that has become one of my grounding practices. I listened to an audiobook. I went for a run. In short, I took care of my mind and my body, and I began to turn it around. Once I took care of the inside, my lens toward the outside shifted.
The following day, with our two-year-old in tow, my husband and I found the best beach club by chance! The day after that we set sail between the Aegean and Mediterranean sea. Once upon a time, I would have prioritized staying at the hippest boutique hotel. But now? Now with a two-year-old we were optimizing for the biggest pool and more space. We were still able to fit in some of our favorite things, house music at a beach club and snorkeling in the sea, and little A learned to adapt. What my kid needed more than a big pool, was a sane, happy mama that could be her grounding factor no matter where we were.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” - Anthony Bourdain
P.S Highly recommend a visit to Turkey! Go visit! It’s beautiful, inexpensive, and great for traveling with (or without) kids.
I am traveling this holiday season, in fact I’m at the Istanbul airport for our layover as I type. This is our first time traveling out of the country with the entire family since Covid started. I feel a lot of apprehension about our journey given the latest news about the Omicron variant. Reading this poem about setting out on a journey and facing fear is helping me keep my spirits up. Sometimes we have to do things that scare us. Life isn't predictable - all I can do is trust myself to get through it.
BY C. P. CAVAFY | TRANSLATED BY EDMUND KEELEY
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.