Happy May Day! Not only is May 1st the day I pluck the finest bouquet of flowers from my neighbors' yards and present it to them at their doorsteps.* Today, also marks the start of an ill-timed but dogged commitment to blog every day for a month (When is there ever a good time?).
Why is blogging important to teaching and learning?
This is a leading question; but a good one. Perhaps it's not so much "blogging" that is important to teaching and learning as it is reflecting on an experience and sharing it with someone else.
I re-read one of my favorite poems (Cavafy's Ithaka) out loud to my family tonight before dinner. My sister asked what I thought it meant. I told her that it reminded me of the hero's journey; how we all have to metaphorically leave home, confront and slay our dragons, and then return 'home' (and this is the important part) to share our story. Blogging for me is about trying to share all of these elements in one succinct post. Even if my journey was a 15-minute trip to the store to pick up a prescription or working with a group of high school students (one of whom, I'm not proud to report, fell asleep during my lesson today) or trying to recover a glass from the sink disposal.
Thank you for the nudge, Chris. And I hope you, dear reader, will join me on this journey. A new Ithaka awaits us all...tomorrow!
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 (C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)
*You should be relieved to know that this practice finally stopped around the time I entered middle school. However, before we weren't so cute anymore, my sisters and I performed this ritual every year on May 1st. We would hide behind large rhododendron bushes to watch our neighbors bend down to pick up a lovely bouquet only to realize it came from their own yards! Their reactions were a mix of happy, perplexed and angry...usually in that order. It was a series of rare facial expressions that I have a hard time replicating now.