My Definitive Journey

About 15 years ago, I left my position at the University of Iowa to work somewhere else. The spiral notebook with a picture of someone crossing a bridge and the fine birdhouse in the picture above were going away gifts.

There were many touching messages in the little book. Friends wished me well and reminded me to “Keep up on all the birds in your new neighborhood.” I was a birdwatcher then and I’m reaching back for that now.

One of them said, “I hope you find your new position to be everything you want it to be.”

I did not. I returned and everything I left was somehow changed. But I was the same old Jim. And later I left again–and again returned.
And now the third leave-taking is approaching–retirement. I will not return. Maybe then my spirit will not be nostalgic.

All of this seems just the opposite of Juan Ramon Jimenez’s poem “El Viaje Definitivo.”

El Viaje Definitivo (The Final Journey)

… and I will go away.

And the birds will stay, singing

And my garden will stay

With its green tree

And white water well.

And every afternoon the sky will be blue and peaceful

And the pealing of bells will be like this afternoon’s

Peal of the bell of the high campanile.

They will die, all those who loved me

And every year the town will be revived, again

And in my circle of green white-limed flowering garden

My spirit will dwell nostalgic from tree to well.

And I will go away

And I will be lonely without my home

And without my tree with its green foliage

Without my white water well

Without the blue peaceful sky

And the birds will stay

Singing

                                –Juan Ramon Jimenez

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