“El Viaje Definitivo” (The Definitive Journey)
. . . and I will leave. But the birds will stay, singing:
and my garden will stay, with its green tree,
with its water well.
Many afternoons the skies will be blue and placid,
and the bells in the belfry will chime,
as they are chiming this very afternoon.
The people who have loved me will pass away,
and the town will burst anew every year.
But my spirit will always wander nostalgic
in the same recondite corner of my flowery garden.
Juan Ramon Jimenez – translated by Carlos Casteneda in his book Journey to Ixtlan
We can’t go home. We can’t go back. The places and people we left will never be the same, if even they were what we thought they were.
Similarly, we can’t go forward. We can’t go ahead. The future won’t be the way we imagine it, so we’ll never get to our ideal image, to our fantasy.
All the better to live fully in the present.
All the better to live a life of passion, of energy, and in connection with what is real right now.
Sure, it will mean that we’ll need to leave all this behind, so we’re guaranteed to be alone and without all of our past nor ever reaching all of our future. Does that aloneness need to be loneliness, though?
Does the fact that all things will change mean that we should hold back so we don’t lose what we have? No, just the opposite. Living fully, now, awake and alive, with all the fiber of our existence, assures us that we will have something to leave behind, something to treasure, and will have created something beyond ourselves.
7 thoughts on “Journey – Definitive, Alone, Passionate”
I can’t believe that I have never come across this poem before. Thank you.
I have such a problem with living fully in the present. In the Enneagram Personality types, I believe that I am most closely a 4, living in my grief. But that does not mean that we should not try to throw off the shackles of our past.
I really love this poem by Jimenez. Always enjoy finding new poems unexpectedly.
Oh, as an Ennegram 4 (Romantic), you might be the best of all of us to deal with grief and the past. Your sensitivity and authenticity can help you be fully alive and aware, so you can truly see what is – and what isn’t. Then, you can make your choices about forgiveness and acceptance. The rest of might be asleep to our feelings so might not be so lucky.
Oh I love this poem so much. I’ve been reciting this poem every afternoon when I was just 4 years old and at nursery and now I’m in grade 6 at 11. This poem is my most favorite. by the Way i’m from Philippines.
I don’t think this poem is meant to be taken literally but more as a spiritual awakening like what Genaro was trying to describe in “Journey to Ixtlan” to Carlos Castenada when he “stopped the world.” After that nothing seemed real. His family and friends became like phantoms. He longed for things to be as they once were but he knew he was changed for ever and could never go back to the way things used to be ever again.
Thanks for your observation, Chris.
Yes, there’s much more to this in Journey to Ixtlan.
You’ve pointed out the sadness that can come with a deep transformation, where we can’t return to our earlier state of innocence or naivety.
Of course, the world also continues to change, so we really can’t go back anyway. Wasn’t it Heraclitus who said we can never step in the same river twice?
“We can never step in the same river twice.” I love that quote from Heraclitus! Thanks for that Vincent. “Yes” has been my all time favorite prog rock group and that has always been a major theme of their music. In fact their logo has always been an interlocking yet ever flowing and changing river.
In a word… “Hiraeth”