Posts Tagged 'caravanista'

I is for Ithaka

Killarney National Park on Bike The first time I heard C.P. Cavafy’s Ithaka was at my father’s memorial service. My mom chose it, as I recall, because it was a poem my father admired. It was fitting for the man he was, a man who viewed life as a journey, whose reward was the journey itself. That is one lesson he passed on to me (and one I’m still trying to learn).

I come back to this poem often. It reminds me of the kind person I want to be, the kind of journey I wish to take and how at this very moment I am already on the road.

As you set out for Ithaka
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 Ithaka 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 Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka 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, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

(Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard – Cavafy Archive)

Road to the Shore

The Blog Post I’ve Wanted To Write For A Year

I’ve struggled for a long time to understand why every semester without fail that after the first week or so of classes I’d lose the fervor and excitement for school. Where did my love of learning go? Where was my motivation? Questioning

There have been many days (and long nights) where I wrestled with these thoughts and wrestled with whether I should be wasting my time wrestling with these thoughts. Was my mind wasting time thinking up excuses to avoid work by thinking about my lack of motivation? These nagging questions will not leave me alone though and there are many things that came together for me recently that I need to share. The threads are hard to follow but, I hope you will be patient.

This is a very blanket and vague statement but I believe that the current system of schooling encourages selfishness and an individualistic nature. Learning as demonstrated by our schools seems to be a one man journey with an importance placed on achieving the number one spot. In school you learn because it is important for you to make the the best of yourself. I do believe it is important that there be some internal motivation but the lack of emphasis on community has always left me feeling empty.

Plants Grow on Rocks in the City I will admit I am a competitive in certain aspects of my life (such as sports) but schooling has never been one of those places. And as a human I can not help but be selfish in certain aspects of my life but in terms of schooling I’ve never desired to learn for me and my own advancement. The times I’ve genuinely enjoyed learning were those moments that brought me a feeling of closer connection to and contact with my community of learners.

For example, I spent a good part of the ’07 fall semester reading the poetry of Yeats and others because I felt that brought me closer to certain people in my learning community that I respected. I ended up forsaking some of my “real” work for absorbing the reading material my learning community suggested. Lets just say that that semester ended very poorly for me grade wise. But a whole world of poetry I had never experienced had been opened up to me. It wasn’t just the fact that I was reading new works but, I was experiencing them in a brand new way.

I have a strong desire to draw closer to those in the caravan who travel with me during this stage of my journey. All of this leads me to say that this strong desire to learn alongside and from these caravanistas does not limit itself to a school context but reaches far beyond. There are many people in my community that I want to talk about but for this post talking about DTLT will have to suffice because it represents so much in one group. Wingshot Descent into Clouds

I easily have the best student employment on campus as a student aide for DTLT. Those who have come before me and currently work with me probably will vouch. I’ve worked at DTLT since the fall of ’07 and I have always looked forward to going to work. Everyone there pushes me to think and challenges me when I need it (which is constantly apparently heh). I have freedom at my job and an expectation that I am responsible with that freedom. I have learned so much more than I thought the job would ever teach me. I get to be surrounded by people pushing the boundaries and doing work that is not found at most universities. Many of the things I have learned on my own while working at DTLT were influenced by my desire to be a part of the community and to contribute the way the staff of DTLT do to their mission. In my mind spending time learning the things they are learning about is my way of honoring their work and the people of DTLT. They probably don’t even know the extent of my insanity on certain things.

Sun Slipping ThroughI’ve never worked so hard to get myself into the lives of people because of a strong desire to know them. As time has gone on the people of DTLT have become my family, a home away from home, and I love them as such. For whatever bizarre reason these people mean a lot to me and so my desire to learn from them carries from work to their lives at home. I know these people and I know their families. Sometimes I feel like I am performing a grand experiment as I observe how each family works and all the millions of intricacies that can occur within one family. I love their kids like they were my siblings. And I want to show their children that people outside their family can come into their lives and love them for seemingly no reason. In fact I can think of no greater joy in my life right now then to be able to love these families well and even though it makes little sense to me why I feel so compelled to do this, I don’t question it, I just do it.

After saying all that I turn back to the question I started off with, where does my motivation for school go every semester? Well, when the solo journey of classes is put up against the community of DTLT is it really that hard to understand why my focus wanders elsewhere? When I have this tangible and meaningful community of people to learn from why would I spend anymore time then I had to on my solo class journey? Again, this is not to say that classes are a complete waste of time, they certainly are not and I have some more thoughts on learning and classes but that is for another post. In short, schooling does not provide the community and meaning-making I desire and in addition, I can easily find that community and meaning-making in abundance in other places of my life.

Maybe I am no closer to a solution to my problem but at least I feel like I understand it better now, perhaps I finally see some sun shining through in what forever seems like a dark cloud hanging over me.


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