Now that I have ceased to sail on the ship of state and have planted my oar, I garden both in the warm earth of St. Pete Beach and the cooler soil of Cape Cod. Eckerd College has provided me with an opportunity to sow seeds as well in the active little grey cells of hundreds of students interested in international relations and global affairs since 1997. Their challenging minds have kept me learning and growing as I try to make sense for them and for me of the changing global scene and our place in it.
The late great Jungian Helen M. Luke used images from the classics to teach us how to find and choose a true journey of the soul in the second half of life. One such powerful image from her book Old Age: Journey into Simplicity is that of planting our oar where people know nothing of the sea so that the bolder selves of future men and women “will grow restless and curious and they will leave home to seek for answers.”
Homer, The Odyssey, Book XI, 134-156 (Fagles trans.)
But once you have killed those suitors in your halls— by stealth or in open fight with slashing bronze— go forth once more, you must... carry your well-planed oar until you come to a race of people who know nothing of the sea, whose food is never seasoned with salt, strangers all to ships with their crimson prows and long slim oars, wings that make ships fly. And here is your sign— unmistakable, clear, so clear you can not miss it: When another traveler falls in with you and calls that weight across your shoulder a fan to winnow grains. then plant your bladed, balanced oar in the earth and sacrifice fine beasts to the lord god of the sea, Poseidon—a ram, a bull, and a ramping wild boar— then journey home and render noble offerings up to the deathless gods who rule the vaulting skies, to all the gods in order. And at last your own death will steal upon you... a gentle, painless death, far from the sea it comes to take you down, borne down with the years in ripe old age with all your people there in blessed peace around you. All that I have told you will come true.