The Journey ̶B̶e̶g̶i̶n̶s̶ ̶ Continues.

Another day, another (—ayayay, I have made so many, before this one) blog.

I think it’s helpful, here, for me to remember the words of Cavafy, as told to me by my tante Roelfien. Roel, who lives in Holland (I keep calling the country that, even if officially it’s the Netherlands), came to visit us in France one time, a couple of years ago.  She saw a print in the guest caravan (—yes, guest caravan—!—wonderful or awful, depending on your perspective—) of a sketch I’d made that said “Whatever You Do, Keep the Goal in Mind.” The reason I’d made that, back then, was because I’ve always had trouble focussing on the “big picture,” being more of a “trees” person than a “forest” person; far more of a pantser than a planner/plotter. And I thought it was about time I grew up, and what’s more, got some grown-up goals.


Back in the Netherlands (see, improvement!), having pondered my bit of word art for awhile, Roel wrote to me. She shared a part of Greek poet Constantine Cavafy‘s Ithaca, and said she believed it’s often not the goal, but the journey that’s important.

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long. — Constantine Cavafy

Having pondered her words, and Cafavy’s, for awhile, I decided that Roel was right, in my case at least. I’ve tended to love life most when I’m simply enjoying the journey, rather than striving for the goal. And I do love a long road trip.

However, Cafavy also writes: “Always keep Ithaca in your mind. / To arrive there is your ultimate goal.” In other words, we need a focus, to choose a direction in which to steer, and to stave off monstrous fears. So perhaps, Roel and I can both agree.

I have thus modified the drawing accordingly. It turned out a bit messy but here it is:



When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

–Constantine P. Cavafy


Another translation can be found here:

What do you think, dear reader? Is it the goal, or the journey, that’s more important—or which has been the principle guide, in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for joining me on the journey. :))

xo NJL


7 thoughts on “The Journey ̶B̶e̶g̶i̶n̶s̶ ̶ Continues.

  1. Leona

    I believe they are both equally important.
    You need to have an audacious goal As the mind works in mysterious ways to guide you there. It is just as important though to enjoy yourself along the way!

    It made me think though …. which is a good thing. Reminded me of one of my favourite quotes:

    ‘Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
    Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
    Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!’
    William Hutchison Murray

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear sister. :)) Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I love the quote. Particularly this is helpful: “the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.” I will try to remember it, to ease my travels. Love xo bebe

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Nadine and Leona,

      I have had plenty of pleasure reading Nadine’s post and Leona’s comment.

      Yes, it has often been said that the journey is more important than the goal or destination. Moreover, Constantine P. Cavafy’s poem also reminds me of the saying “God helps those who help themselves”, which is also Greek in origin. According to Wikipedia:

      The phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is a popular motto that emphasizes the importance of self-initiative and agency. The expression is still famous around the globe and used to inspire people for self-help. Here is one example sentence in English: “You better start preparing for the test because God helps those who help themselves.”

      The phrase originated in ancient Greece and may originally have been proverbial. It is illustrated by two of Aesop’s Fables and a similar sentiment is found in ancient Greek drama. Although it has been commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the modern English wording appears earlier in Algernon Sidney’s work.

      The phrase is often mistaken as a scriptural quote, though it is not stated verbatim in the Bible. Some Christians have criticized the expression as being contrary to the Bible’s message of God’s grace. A variant of the phrase can also be found in the Quran (13:11).

      An illustration of the fable by Walter Crane in Baby’s Own Aesop (1887)

      The sentiment appears in several ancient Greek tragedies. Sophocles, in his Philoctetes (c. 409 BC), wrote, “No good e’er comes of leisure purposeless; And heaven ne’er helps the men who will not act.”

      Euripides , in the Hippolytus (428 BC), mentions that, “Try first thyself, and after call in God; For to the worker God himself lends aid.”[6][dubious – discuss] In his Iphigeneia in Tauris, Orestes says, “I think that Fortune watcheth o’er our lives, surer than we. But well said: he who strives will find his gods strive for him equally.”

      A similar version of this saying “God himself helps those who dare” better translated as “divinity helps those who dare” “audentes deus ipse iuuat” comes from Ovid, Metamorphoses, 10.586. The phrase is spoken by Hippomenes when contemplating whether to enter a foot race against Atalanta for her hand in marriage. If Hippomenes were to lose, however, he would be killed. Hippomenes decides to challenge Atalanta to a race and, with the aid of Venus, Hippomense was able to win the race.

      The same concept is found in the fable of Hercules and the Wagoner, first recorded by Babrius in the 1st century AD. In it, a wagon falls into a ravine, or in later versions becomes mired, but when its driver appeals to Hercules for help, he is told to get to work himself.[9] Aesop is also credited with a similar fable about a man who calls on the goddess Athena for help when his ship is wrecked and is advised to try swimming first. It has been conjectured that both stories were created to illustrate an already existing proverb.

      By the way, Nadine, if you don’t mind me asking, is Leona your biological sister?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear SoundEagle, such a lovely comment! Apologies that my reply is very late.
        Your here-told quotes and fables are very helpful to me and will serve well as thoughtful reminders in this continued journey. Very grateful to you. To answer your question at the end, also with a quote, I will say this: “Sisters are different flowers from the same garden.” (—origins uncertain). Thanks for your kind attention and flower-watering. xo n

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi Nadine,

          I hope that both you and Leona have been doing fairly well in life.

          Time flies! Nine months have already passed since I last commented here. Thank you for your reply. I am delighted that you think very highly of my previous comment here. I would like to remind you that I have always enjoyed reading your blog posts. You do often have a very nice and mature way of getting your messages across.

          As for me, I have continued to improve on the eulogy at where I have also replied to your second comment on the 2nd of October.

          Apart from the nearly 20 new photos and extra texts there, yesterday, I have also uploaded two new videos of my late mother. One of the videos shows how she walked and talked in a jewellery store.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I know right? Time does fly. Nine months… crazy!!

          I so appreciate your encouragement! That really means a lot to me, thanks very much.

          Wow, you have made such a thoughtful tribute to your mother. I will visit again soon to check it out.

          Liked by 1 person

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