READER OF THE MONTH: What Ithaka means
Hey gang, here’s the first Reader of the Month for the year. A fantastic story and one guaranteed to leave a smile on your face.
My name’s Ameya and I’m 25 years old from Mumbai, India. After graduating from college as what I’d call a ‘winner rat’, I worked in the oil and gas industry where my brain cells were dying by the minute due to the utterly mundane nature of my work. There was virtually no thinking involved, and I was in a constant torpor. A chimp with a sufficient sense of responsibility could have replaced me as lead engineer on the oil rig.
One day just two months in, I was asked to sign a very expensive bond tying me down for at least a year. It was a hard time. On one hand, the money was great, and I had absolutely no clue where I’d find another job that could sustain me. On the other, every bit of of me screamed and rattled against the cage of expectations that held me captive. I was a wreck, working over 12 hours a day and suffering from insomnia. The pragmatic choice was easy: Keep the job, pocket the money and just go with the flow. How hard could it be? After all, everyone else at work was in meek surrender and urging me to follow suit.
I believe there is a spark inside each of us, but life has a way of smothering it with a multitude of pressures. Thankfully, I got lucky. Just out of the blue, I received an email from a dear friend with a link to the Zen Pencils adaptation of Cavafy’s poem Ithaka. There was a simple note with it: Life should be spent in pursuit of something greater than oneself.
The poem came unsolicited and like a magic spell. Something in me just came back to life. It was my spark.
I quietly finished the project I was working on and quit my job the following week.
I cannot imagine that happening if I didn’t receive that email from my friend and saw the Ithaka comic. I learned that the journey IS the destination, and suddenly felt an inextinguishable thirst for travel, one that lives with me today.
I initially taught high school physics in order to save money for my own Ithaka journey. With the money saved, I backpacked across South-East Asia for two and a half months: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. Quite simply, it was the best time of my life, and not just that, it gave me the direction in life I had always been looking for. Somewhere along the trip, I understood the full significance of the lines from the poem “May there be many a summer morning when, with what pleasure, what joy, you come into harbors seen for the first time.” During my trip it dawned on me that this was all I really wanted to do: Travel.
Today, I am running my own travel company in India with my best friend and fellow travel freak. We’re working really hard to help people travel better and are building a platform where our local tour operators can reach the global traveler community online. It’s only been a couple of months, and it’s scary running our own company, not to mention a whole lot of hard work. But we’re super-positive about the future and the message that resonates through most of the Zen Pencils comics helps us stay strong.
Oh, and guess what we named the company?
Woohoo, bravo Ameya! Best of luck with your business and I’m sure you will see many more new harbours in the years to come. I’m about to fly into Japan for the first time later this week. With my lifelong interest in Samurai, anime, manga … and eating, it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. You can follow me on Instagram to see photos.