Sunday, August 14, 2011

Odysseus Whispers to Me in the Dark

They say Owls to Athens and the Sons of Atreus are true. That Hector wore a hat with a horse hair plume and that Homer was blind. What a day I had today...what a day, my friends.
We sailed the night along the Montenegro coast through the dark lapping seas, lighthouses on distant shores, and arrived, as sailors would say, on our backs like Odysseus in Greece.
The Piraeus is a mess. Taxis are on strike. Cops busting homeless. The Greek parliament disbanding. Torn European Union Flags. Riots in the streets. Chaos.
Yet despite this, we find a local bus and pass through the city on our way to Athens. Past the Temple of Zeus. Past the National Library. Past Hadrian’s Arch. Past the Panathenaic Stadium. Glowing in the heat and our smiles.
Along the way I am telling stories to my daughters, the kind that have kept them up at night for months asking for more. The beautiful nymph Medusa and the rape of Poseidon. Hercules 12 Labors. Theseus and the Minotaur. Deadelus and his revenge on King Minos for imprisoning his son.
But no story captures my daughter’s imagination like Odysseus, the wayward father spending twenty years trying to get home amid all of his detours and saboteurs and adventures along the way.
My daughters love to hear about how he spread bee’s wax in his men’s ears and was tied to the mast to hear the Siren’s song, or how he tricked Polyphemus, the Cyclopes, after escaping his cave on the belly of a ram.
How good Penelope waited, each night unfurling her loom and keeping the suitors at bay, and the ever faithful shepherd Eumaeus, the stolen boy-king, and how Athena helped him in the end.
Yes, my daughters can never get enough of those old stories… well, or maybe their old men can never get enough of telling them. Either way, rumbling through Athens on our way up to the Acropolis, those old stories found a new set of ears.
But the day was long, and the day was excruciatingly hard on these little legs. This blazing heat, scrambling for shade, and the only transportation the top of a double-decker bus boiling in the sun. Not a single passenger below giving up their seat for some sweating, dehydrated kids.
So we earned our travel stripes today. Just as Odysseus stood on the banks of Calypso’s Island and shed every tear, we earned it today.
At least that’s what I told my girls as we arrived back to the ship, ready to sail off to adventures far away and across the sea. Tomorrow is another day, and I can't wait to see what is around the bend.
So we head out across the water again. Stars overhead. Bodies beaten and tired. Old as dust and breath. With legends in our hearts calling us to adhere. Odysseus is whispering. He is calling to you too. Hoist sails on the wind, sail away with us in the night. Come, join the flight.

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