Life Journey Of The Odyssey
The Odyssey is an epic story of one man’s journey as well as the trials and tribulations that he encounters while trying to make it back to his home. Along the way, this story not only follows the guidelines of many other hero stories, but also applies to our everyday struggles both internally and externally. It seems like everyone can look at a story from the odyssey and somehow relate it to a difficulty or a problem that they had to overcome to reach their goal of being happy. These heroic stories have been told throughout the years to help us learn lessons about ourselves and to learn how other people have been able to shine through the hard times to reach happiness. In the book Life Journey: Literature and the Search for Meaning in the Stages of Life by Milt Ford, the ways these books teach us these lessons are analyzed and explained using his theory. Mr. Ford explains that there are three experiences that make up a persons life, they are identity, relationships, and accomplishments. He goes even further as to apply each one of these experiences into stages of our life such as, childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adult. It in interesting to see how this theory not only applies to The Odyssey but to our lives as well.
In The Odyssey there is a young man by the name of Telemachus who is the prince of Ithaca, and the son of the books hero, Odysseus. Though he does not get very old in the book, he does go through some very important times in his life journey, discovering for himself whom he is and what he is made of. In the early stages of the book we see the birth of Telemachus and then hear of things going on at his home. As in Ford’s theory we know that during the identity experience of Telemachus’ childhood, he is experiencing himself. He begins to find out who he is as a child and that is when he begins to develop all of the traits that are going to follow him throughout the rest of his life. The relationship experience theory is an important one during his childhood. The relationships that he makes as a child stay strong throughout the book. We see that he connects and forms a bond with his mother, but the relationship between him and his father is the interesting one. Odysseus had to leave when Telemachus was very young and he did not get to know his son before he left. There is a strain on the relationship at first because Telemachus is angry that his father left his mother and him to go off to the fight in the Trojan War. As he grows up though he begins to understand and the anger inside him begins to diminish. The third experience is accomplishment. We do not learn much of Telemachus’ accomplishments during his childhood, but it is in this experience that Milt Ford says that a person is experiencing successes and failures to find out what they are going to do in life. We do not hear about them but I am sure that the normal accomplishments of a child, such as learning to crawl and walk are accomplishments during this period of time. The experiences develop more in Telemachus’ life journey as he moves from childhood into the adolescent part of his life.
Next in the book, Telemachus reaches adolescence. He does a lot of growing up in a short amount of time during these years. He is forced to because of the absence of his father and the ever-growing threat of the suitors in his home. This is the stage where I feel Telemachus journeys through the most important experience in his life so far. The identity experience of this time period of his life is vital. As I said before, this is when Ford believes you start to ask yourself, who am I? This is where you start to see Telemachus begin to form into a man and take on the traits exhibited by his father who is a well-respected man and feared warrior. He is approached by the God Athena and offered the challenge to go out on his own without telling anyone, to try and find word of his father, because up till this point no one was sure whether or not Odysseus was alive. So Telemachus had to look deep inside himself and see if her had the courage and desire to go on the possibly dangerous journey. He showed no fear and took the journey around to different kingdoms to ask about his father and along his way finds many stories of his fathers attempted return to Ithaca. During his adolescent years he also shows his growth in relationship with his mother and father. He has a great desire to find his father because he wants to see him but also to save his mother from having to deal with the suitors who have taken over his fathers’ palace. This shows tremendous growth in his relationships and also his identity. He is ready to step forward and be a man. In his adolescence, Telemachus accomplishes several things. He goes out on his own to several different far away kingdoms to find his father, which is an accomplishment on its own. He also defends his mother along with his father by battling all of the suitors and killing them to keep them from causing any more harm. On the accomplishment aspect of his life journey during adolescence, he does a lot of things. He practically becomes a man at an early age. He finds his father and then teams with him to destroy all of the threats to his thrown.
It is very exciting when you break down the character of Telemachus in this epic poem. It is interesting to look at just one person and analyze all of the things that they go through and how they handle them. Like Telemachus, we have all made journeys through our lives that have helped us to discover who we are and just what we are capable of. For some of us, our journey away from the comfort and security of our homes and our families to venture out and figure out who we are and who we want to become is a major part of our life journey. It is interesting how a piece of literature written so long ago can have themes and ideals that still apply to our lives today. I know that pretty much everyone could sit down and read this book, and then apply some theme or idea from the book to his or her own life. I know for a fact that I can make a comparison to my own life.
I see similarities between Telemachus and myself. We both have had similar obstacles to overcome and we were both forced to learn our identities and our paths at an early age. Whereas Telemachus’ father left him at an early age to go to war, my father passed away when I was seventeen from a massive heart attack. The obvious difference is that Odysseus returned from war but my father will not return. I, like Telemachus, was forced to grow up very quickly. I had to become the man and begin to accept responsibilities that were previously not put on my shoulders. There was a period where I was lost and needed to find my way. My journey came way of my departure for college. I had to start to develop the attitude and work ethic that would mold me into the man I am to become. I also began to take on traits of my father, which made me very happy because it was a way for him to live on and stay fresh on everyone’s minds. This is similar to the way that Telemachus took the traits of his father and reminded people of Odysseus.
Fortunately, like Telemachus, I have emerged from my journey very happy with the way I have turned out. The only bad part is my father is gone for good. But it did force me to grow up and change. I have come full circle with the ideals and the path of my life that I am ready to take. This is like Ford’s theory. My identity has been found. I have looked inside of myself and realized who I am and who I want to be. My important relationships have shined greatly through this time of my life. My relationship with my mother has greatly increased and become closer on a deep level. She is more than my mother; she is a great friend and an advisor when I need her to be. My friends around me have been great. They have been moral support and never looked down on me when I have my times of weakness. Lastly but not least of all, my girlfriend has remained strong for me which made things a lot better for me. These relationships have been majorly important throughout my life journey so far. As far as my accomplishments, I cannot say much without sounding conceded. I have gotten through my trials and tribulations so far and am in college looking towards a future in Criminal Justice. I think that is an accomplishment.
There are many ways that The Odyssey can be molded and interpreted to apply to our lives today. I highlighted instances in my own life where you can show a pretty good correlation between ideas and struggles from the book into my own life. Every book has things in it that can be compared to everyday life. I know that from now on when I read a book I will read deeper than face value and examine more closely how it coincides to my own life. It definitely makes the book more interesting and I also feel like I get more out of it. We learn from these great stories that everyone goes through bad situations and terrible struggles, it is how we deal with them and what we learn about ourselves that are the foundations for the life that we make for ourselves. With lots of time and soul searching, we too can be as happy as Telemachus.
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