the quest ...
An arduous trek down a thorny goat path on a searing hot day brings me to a pristine beach spotted from a boat a few days days prior. I make my way to the cyan sea with a dramatic sort of half-stumble, half-walk, not pausing even to set down my beach gear. I drop things as I lumber along — a towel here, empty water bottle and food there, a snorkel by the shore. Like a wanderer lost in the desert who has just caught a glimpse of oasis, I see only water: cerulean, halcyon bathing pool of Olympian gods—revive me. Revive me now.
As my feet hit the shore, I fling myself in with a graceless pancake flop: all of me, flat and spread out, all at once. Not another soul on the beach, so no need to worry about first impressions.
As all of me hits the water all at once, I feel a thousand excruciating stings over my body. Salt water enters microscopic (and not-so-microscopic) cuts and scrapes I picked up along the barbed trail. Cuts I’d barely noticed, much less acknowledged, but, as with many things in life, the remedy is worse than the wound. The pain, like countless shallow paper cuts on tender flesh, makes me inhale—sharply—but passes quickly. In a few seconds it’s over, and I never feel my wounds again.
The cure for anything is salt water — tears, sweat, or the sea.
Baroness von Blixen, how right you were.
Ernest Hemingway wrote that when springtime came to Paris, there were no problems except where to be happiest. This same sentiment greets me every morning I wake up in Greece. Since happiness is a given, the only decision lies in where to bask in its warming glow.
Happiness, I’ve learned, is a gift bestowed by the gods. And the gods, as we all know, are fickle, emotional—at times dyspeptic—creatures. Nothing can be gained from questioning their intentions and aims; best to just revel in their good favor while it lasts.
I’ve also learned how self-imposed restrictions can impede on one’s happiness. Like traveling with a laptop, for example. It makes me unhappy to travel with electronic accoutrements that require charging and cooling and handling–with–care, so I’m ditching the laptop, which means I won’t be able to provide live, reality-show posts from my trips in Greece. No one ever asked me to, but for reasons unknown, I convinced myself that blogging and sharing had to be real–time or not at all.
So I’m going old-school: pen, notebook, impressions, experiences. After the fact, but hopefully still relevant. It makes me happy to share and post my trips to Greece, like a new love I can’t stop talking on about.
This is my roundabout way of saying: more posts to come.
Color me neglectful, and call the island of Lefkada beautiful. You would forgive me if you were here. Perhaps you too would be distracted by all the beautiful colors and the endless blue sea. You would forgive me, I think.
Blue against yellow, could it be any more perfect? Doesn’t it seem as if you dreamed it it into being?
And of course, the endless Greek sea…
My fascination with Lefkada goes beyond the color wheel. I’ve been re-reading and studying The Odyssey, over and over again. Classes even — I took classes to make sure I didn’t miss anything, because I always miss something. So what does Lefkada have to do with The Odyssey? Everything, it seems. There’s a whole group of scholars and archaeologists who believe the island of Lefkada is actually ancient Ithaka. But I think that Ithaka is Ithaka, and I’m on a mission to prove it.
From Schliemann, I learned that Homer was a straightforward historian. Schliemann found Troy by following Homer’s clues in The Iliad. Most historians, scholars and archaeologists in Schliemann’s time (even Greeks) didn’t believe Troy existed. They mistook The Iliad for another edition of Greek mythology. Schliemann proved them wrong and used Homer as his guide, with great success.
So I believe that Ithaka is Ithaka, and I’d like to find a way to prove it. On my last trip to Greece, I wandered way off the beaten path and almost passed out from sun stroke. While stumbling along a crumbling mountainside — clutching at prickly weeds for dear life and cursing myself for always taking the hard way — I discovered a buried ruin. I’ll write more on this when I’m able to, but it showed me that anything is possible. My entire life I’ve dreamed of discovering something that was lost to mankind, and without even trying, it happened.
So anything is possible. Ithaka is Ithaka.
During the peace that followed the clash of the gods and the Titans, the sea nymph Metis became pregnant by Zeus. The Oracle of Gaea—Mother Earth—warned Zeus that if Metis had a son, he would be greater than Zeus himself. Zeus, remembering the defeat of his own father, Kronos, borrowed a move from his father’s playbook and swallowed Metis whole.
Many months later, Zeus began to suffer from terrible headaches. He went among his friends and begged them to split his head open to allow the pain out. Neither the gods nor the Titans dared do such a thing, except for Prometheus. Prometheus was so progressive and forward-thinking, he had sided with Zeus in the war against the Titans and was rewarded with a place among the Olympian gods.
“The pain will be sharp,” said Prometheus, “but then you’ll feel better. Now put your hands over your eyes.”
Zeus did as he was told. Prometheus brought his ax down, and crack went Zeus’s skull.
As soon as his skull opened, Athena—Zeus’s brilliant new daughter—leapt from his forehead, dressed in a glimmering warrior’s armor and sounding a warrior’s cry.
Prometheus patched up Zeus’s skull with clay, while Zeus roared with laughter.
“What an entrance for a child! Full grown and only seconds old.”
“Father, dear,” said Athena “I have many things in mind.”
“Indeed you have. I shared all my thoughts with you before you were born,” said Zeus.
— Recently, I tried to cure my incessant migraines by pouring holy water from the island of Tinos over my head — last in a long line of potential magical cures.
I don’t know if it worked quite yet, but if it didn’t, it can mean only one thing: an Olympian god is gestating in my forehead.
Now all I need is a Prometheus.