DiaryDad is on an Odyssey of Fatherhood.
I have always been a fan/student of mythology. I have written a hand-full of about the topic. Of those however I have never done a post on The Odyssey of Homer, which is one of my favorite mythological stories of all time. This story constantly evolves for me and constantly has new meaning. Which I think is the nature of a good story or myth. I have had a few things in my life evolve for me as I have aged and interestingly they have all had a root in mythology, and they have all been very defining to me.
A few years ago I read the “Percy Jackson” series of books by Rick Riordan to my boys. Which to my happy surprise draws a lot upon the Odyssey. I remember during that time there was one night that as we were talking around the dinner table we moved from talking about Percy Jackson to the Odyssey and I became very animated as I was retelling my favorite parts to the boys. My wife pointed out to me that being a husband and a father has helped me understand the story, not better necessarily, but in a whole new light. The motivation of Odysseus carries much more weight with me than the battles and the wit he employed. That hasn’t always been the case, because fighting the cyclops, escaping the sirens, and killing the wicked suitors were all favorite parts of the tale to me. Now however, as a father and husband, I find myself very clearly understanding why you would fight a war for 10 years and struggle 10 more to find your way home.
Not only do I understand those stories I recognize them in my own life as well. My family is my Ithaca, and being a good father and husband is the odyssey that I am on. There are demons, monsters, and sirens to fight, battles to be faced bravely, and storms to weather. And they are not easy. I can remember as a kid reading this story for the first time and saying “oh man I’d have just given up, it was too hard…” and as a kid I would have. As a father I can’t and I won’t. I know all to well how great my Ithaca is. I have made a living bed out of love for my wife, and I yearn to see my boys grow to be men. So what obstacle, what demon, what storm is worth surrendering to and thereby sacrificing those things. I can tell you as a man who has reached middle-age that there is none.
I had no idea that my fascination with mythology in my youth would become such in intricate part of my life as an adult. The lessons I have learned, which provide clarity and reason to my life, have been profound. I hope that in some small measure I can pass these lessons on to my children.
I believe that is what being a father is all about.
Photo Credit: the author.