I took George to the beach yesterday. It was snowing sideways, the waves were hitting the beach hard and the wind was howling— savage beauty. George and I love the beach in all its incarnations: rain-soaked, shrouded in fog, bathed in sunlight or snowbound. I love the beach so much it makes me wax poetic. Seriously, walking the beach is my version of meditation and given the grey noise in my world, a little meditation is a good thing. In between wishing I had worn a hat and gloves, I was thinking about surrender and what it really means.
As I get older, I have begun to see the freedom of surrendering in my life. I have spent 42 years bound and determined to drive my bus whenever, wherever and however I want. It gets exhausting. My mantra lately is to allow space for change. The tricky part for me is realizing the change I am making space for may not be what I envisioned. As I was walking yesterday, I realized true surrender, not surrender on my terms, is trusting what's next is greater than anything I could have dreamt for myself. The beach is my cathedral, I would be lost without the cleansing power of wind and water.
I have walked by a large piece of driftwood on the beach countless times. Yesterday, something caught my eye and I stopped. There is a raven's head, clear as day, on one of the branches. As I stood there in amazement, I knew whatever lies ahead of me, the nurturing guidance of the natural and spiritual worlds is ever-present. On the way back to the car (I really should have worn a hat), I found a perfect dragonfly dusted with sand and snow. I picked it up and brought it home; I thought my warm kitchen might revive it. No such luck, it was a victim of the snow storm. I am going to save it with a note that says, 'surrender to mystery'.
My dear friend, Mindy, sent me C. P. Cavafy's poem, 'Ithaca', right before Good Thyme opened. We have been friends for 22 years and she knew exactly what to give me to mark the beginning of a life I had dreamed of. It eloquently reminds me to relish the journey.
As you set out for Ithaca
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
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.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
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 the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen 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 gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.
Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.