Reason #5 – Solace

A friend recently told me with great sadness of how her adult daughter had lost her way with work, in her personal life, in her ambitions for the future. What about a pilgrimage? Might that provide the time to think, to clear the cobwebs and see things more clearly? On the surface it seems a simple and practical proposition, but in reality, it requires a great deal of courage to embark on a quest to discover who you are or what you really want out of life. After all, you risk arriving at the conclusion that you are no-one special, or, at the end of your long and arduous trek, that you have no more idea of what you want than you did when you set out. So how, irrespective of these risks, does the act of pilgrimage hold the promise of solace? For over a thousand years pilgrims travelled to the Oracle at Delphi looking for answers. “Will I find work? Will I find love? Will I become a parent? Or in the case of Alexander the Great, “Will I win the war against the Persians?’ The Greek writer Pausanias tells us that the maxim γνῶθι σεαυτόν (know thyself) was inscribed on the forecourt of the temple to Apollo at Delphi, suggesting that above all, self-knowledge might provide the key to even the most prosaic of personal questions. While the oracle has been closed for business since the 4th century, we can take comfort in knowing that the struggle to find out who we are and why we are here has been going on for several millennia at the very least. What pilgrimage offers then, is the chance to discover for ourselves that, to quote Rag’n’Bone Man, we’re only human after all.

Looking for answers in Stockholm Library

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