This is a beautiful passage from Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by Irish poet John O’Donohue on the importance of taking the time to slow down and smell the roses. Life can’t be swallowed in one big gulp… you must sip and savour…
“Often we approach things with greed and urgency. We do not like to wait. As we wait at the vertical altar to go online, we become frustrated by the extra few seconds the machine needs to find its mind. Computer makers are constantly at work to cut the transition time; the flick from world to cyber-world must become seamless. We live under the imperative of the standalone digital instant; and it is uncanny how neatly that instant has become the measure not alone of time but also of space. Classically, the understanding of life, the unfolding of identity and creativity, the notion of growth and discovery were articulated through the metaphor of the journey.
Virgil’s Aeneid is the journey from fallen Troy to the glory of the new city of Rome. Homer’s Odyssey is a great mystical journey home. Dante’s Divine Comedy is an epic journey through hell and purgatory until the arrival in Paradise. Each human life is the journey from childhood to a realised adult life. Each day is a journey out of darkness into light. Each friendship and love is the intimate journey where the soul is born and grows. The journey is the drama of the heart’s voyage into the tide of possibilities which open before it. Indeed, a book is a path of words which takes the heart in new directions. …
“Traditionally, a journey was a rhythm of three forces: time, self and space. Now the digital virus has truncated time and space. Marooned on each instant, we have forfeited the practice of patience, the attention to emergence and delight in the Eros of discovery. The self has become anxious for what the next instant might bring. This greed for destination obliterates the journey. … But a great journey needs plenty of time. It should not be rushed; if it is, your life becomes a kind of abstract package tour devoid of beauty and meaning. There is such a constant whirr of movement that you never know where you are. You have no time to give yourself to the present experience. When you accumulate experiences at such a tempo, everything becomes thin. Consequently, you become ever more absent from your life and this fosters emptiness that haunts the heart.
When you regain a sense of your life as a journey of discovery, you return to rhythm with yourself. When you take the time to travel with reverence, a richer life unfolds before you. Moments of beauty begin to braid your days. When your mind becomes more acquainted with reverence, the light, grace and elegance of beauty find you more frequently. When the destination becomes gracious, the journey becomes an adventure of beauty. The wonder of the journey as a voyage of reverence and discovery finds lyrical expression in C.P. Cavafy’s poem ‘Ithaca’. He imagines the reader setting out on this journey to Ithaca, a journey rich with promise for senses and soul, rich with glad and difficult learning. The poem concludes with a wonderful evocation of the destination as midwife to the soul:
Ithaca gave you the beautiful journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not fooled you.
Having become so wise, with so much experience,
You will have understood, by then, what these Ithacas mean.
The poem advises great patience and never to hurry. Take your time and be everywhere you are.”
– from Divine Beauty by John O’Donohue
Image: Self Portrait