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Ramblings by Rose Mary

Please refer to the Ramblings by Rose Mary main page for columns published in other issues.
Rose Mary can be contacted via e-mail at




 Wanderings Can Lead to Good Lessons

“Above me it is beautiful,

Below me it is beautiful.

All around me it is beautiful

Listen to the quiet power of beauty.” --- Indian chant


The quiet voice of poetry makes me appreciate beauty of the English language and gives me valuable insights. While I was thinking about the adventurous Angelones' sojourns in exotic climes, I looked back at my own journeys and mentioned two treasured poems in last week's essay.

My mother read, told stories and recited poetry to me. Neither of us realized it then, but this formed the way that I look at the world. Devoutly Christian, her favorite poem was about a Muslim whose love of his fellow man placed him at the head of the list of those who love God taught me not to judge others. She'd end her recitation by saying, "There's going to be a bunch of folks who're going to be mighty surprised when they get to Heaven and see who else is there-mighty surprised!"

The other was Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" about how when we come to a fork in the road during our journey through life, the path that we choose determines our future. It reminds me that I shouldn't be afraid to travel a different path from that of others.

Lastly, the modern Greek poet C. V. Cavafy's "Ithaca" is my top pick. To refresh your memory of Greek myths - some of which have proven to be true - Ithaca was the home island of King Odysseus (Ulysses). The poet Homer wrote an epic poem about Odysseus' long wanderings. Bound for home after the Trojan War, Odysseus' shipmates and he were blown off course and spent 10 years wandering the Mediterranean. During their voyage, they encountered various dangers, including Laistrigonians (cannibals), a giant one-eyed Cyclops, the sea-god Poseidon and Siren temptresses. Eventually Odysseus got home to his faithful wife, Penelope, when a lesser man might have given up.

From the moment of our births until our deaths, we are embarked on a journey through life. Kavafy's lovely poem transforms the long wanderings of Odysseus into a metaphor for our life-journey. It reminds me to be less fearful and to savor the beauties, discoveries and joys of my all-too-brief passage here rather than fussing about problems that may never come to pass and worrying overmuch about the ending of my voyage. Here's the first stanza:

“As you set out for Ithaca

hope that your road is a long one

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrigonians and Cyclopes, angry Poseidon-

Don't be afraid of them.

You 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.

Laistrigonians and Cyclopes, angry Poseidon-

You won't encounter them unless you bring them along inside your soul, Unless your soul sets them up in front of you.”

Ah youth! Twenty-eight-year-old Rosa and her brother, Paul Angelone, are just knee deep in their lives. However, they've already had more adventures than some people have in a lifetime. Their mother passed on her adventurous spirit and travel-lust to them. Also, she has wisely let them find their own paths and make their own mistakes. Then, just as her own parents probably worried about her when she went to live in Paris at the tender age of 19, she was apprehensive when Rosa went to South America at the same age, and Paul went to live in communistic North Vietnam.

Rosa decided to set off on an adventure of her own as well as improving her knowledge of Spanish. She researched the Internet, planned carefully and signed up to join a study group in Mexico. All travelers - be it during our passage through life or a physical journey - learn that the best-laid plans often go wrong. When Rosa landed she couldn't find the person who was to meet her and roamed around the airport all night. This happened to our tour group when we landed in Italy. There was an airline strike, and our guide was unable to fly into Rome to meet us. Disconsolately, we wandered the Rome airport all day, dragging our suitcase-tails behind us like so many lost, bleating sheep until we were able to get on a flight to Milan where she was waiting. At least we had companions in our misery!

Rosa called her mother. "Sorry, this is something that I can't help you with."



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