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 on the way to Ithaca hope that the road is a long one, filled with adventures, filled with understanding. The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes, Poseidon in his anger: do not fear them, you’ll never come across them on your way as long as your mind stays aloft, and a choice emotion touches your spirit and your body. The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes, savage Poseidon; you’ll not encounter them unless you carry them within your soul, unless your soul sets them up before you.
Hope that the road is a long one. Many may the summer mornings be when—with what pleasure, with what joy— you first put in to harbors new to your eyes; may you stop at Phoenician trading posts and there acquire fine goods: mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony, and heady perfumes of every kind: as many heady perfumes as you can. To many Egyptian cities may you go so you may learn, and go on learning, from their sages.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind; to reach her is your destiny. But do not rush your journey in the least. Better that it last for many years; that you drop anchor at the island an old man, rich with all you’ve gotten on the way, not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
Ithaca gave to you the beautiful journey; without her you’d not have set upon the road. But she has nothing left to give you any more.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca did not deceive you. As wise as you’ll have become, with so much experience, you’ll have understood, by then, what these Ithacas mean.