CEC in Numbers – ∞
June 2, 2021
Dear colleagues, As summer is an opportunity to pause and reflect, I want to share Constantine Cavafy’s poem “Ithaka” with you. The poem builds on Odysseus’ epic journey home to Ithaka after the Trojan war, made legendary by Homer’s “The Odyssey.” The poem’s power comes from the message that the journey matters as much as the destination.
Many of the conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion are currently centered around “outcomes”–be they, increasing diversity in the faculty and student body; workshops and training sessions; changes in laws and policies; changes in curricula; changes in methodologies; changes in forms of engagement; and checklists. The emphasis on outcomes is extremely important. In this CEC in Numbers, I would like to also challenge us to embrace the journey, embrace the process through which we will reach the outcomes we desire.
As Cavafy says, “Hope your road is a long one.” Pay attention to the infinite ways by which we will grow and connect as we create communities where everyone can thrive:
- The dialogues and conversations you will join.
- The people you will meet.
- The ideas you will consider.
- The ways of life you will encounter.
- The places in which you will find yourself.
- The challenges you will overcome.
- The decisions you will make (and not make).
- The images you will see, the smells you will savor, the sounds you will hear, the feelings you will experience.
You can hear Sean Connery recite the poem here. Embrace the journey.
By Constantine Cavafy
Translated by Edmund Keeley
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
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.
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 your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing 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 learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t 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’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.