Finally, FINALLY I managed to get that 20 minutes to myself last night. (Actually, it was a whole hour! Luxury!) And I fulfilled my daydream and spent it in an armchair reading the Odyssey. I’m enjoying it. I’ve never read the Odyssey before (cue wails of astonishment from my East Coast educated brethren) and I’m reading it very slowly and intentionally.
The bit that caught my attention last night was a metaphor. I find it interesting to discover the root of some long-familiar phrases and metaphors. I find it equally interesting to discover which ones have not survived to be reused. One that really caught my attention was this:
“Then, as one who lives alone in the country, far from any neighbor, hides a brand as fire-seed in the ashes to save himself from having to get a light elsewhere, even so did Ulysses cover himself up with leaves;” (Book 5) (Also, my translation is better)
I had never really thought of this before. It evokes this vast loneliness. If you are far from neighbors and your fire goes out past relighting, what a dark and dire world it must be! I sometimes complain of the way nursing ties me tight to this schedule. In some ways this fire-holding must be worse. You must have something to burn. You must awaken, return, whatever is needed to keep the fire alight. I’m not sure how hard it would be to reignite the fire if you fail to keep it going, but obviously it is a barrier. On the other hand, how refreshing it must be to live with other people — to have a family who can share this responsibility, to have neighbors who can also be counted upon to have kept their fires alight.
It brings to me a new light to the idea of community, and what community meant.
Keep those home-fires burning, friends.