Aelos The Wind Done Gone

Next Odysseus reaches Aeolia, home of Aeolus, who is Master of the Winds. Aeolia is an island that flats whimsically on the sea with no fixed location; it bobbers wherever the wind blow it. The Aeolians live lightly, playfully, spontaneously. Each day they enjoy an elegant party with food and music. The conversation is witty, bubbly and sophisticated. They have every conceivable kind of luxury. And at night, according to Odysseus, they sleep with their mates on lavish, ornate bedsteads.

The Aeolians, says Odysseus, “feast on without end “. Not only is the party ongoing, but the Aeolians also have the optimist ‘s sense that it will never end. But Odysseus and his men want to get home, and not just party. Still, even the most sober traveler could not ignore the fun, lightness and excitement, the great spirit of the place. The crew parties-on for a full month. And as Odysseus prepares to leave, Aeolus presents him with a magical gift: an ox-skin inside of which he has tied all the winds except for Zephyr, the West Wind, which was left free to blow Odysseus and his crew home to Ithaca.

With Zephyr at their back, in nine days they are at last so close to home that Odysseus can see Ithaca, he can see the shepherds tending fires, so close that he has a bird ‘s eye view of the island in sharp detail, and he must be beyond joy. He can smell it, and he can taste it. It is a spectacular, numinous vision of home, just what he had hoped. It is what the psychologist Abe Maslow would have called a peak experience; and it is as high as Odysseus will get, and as close as he will get to Home, until he actually makes it to Ithaca nine years from now. (You might say it is a peek experience: Aeolus gives Odysseus a good look at what might be).

But now Odysseus tires and dozes off, a sign that something imaginal is happening, that his normal waking consciousness can’t contain or process events. Who would not be overwhelmed, glutted, by such a clear and close vision of the end of his long journey? Sorry to say, with Odysseus fast asleep, the crew starts to talk among themselves, muttering that Aeolus has surely stuffed the ox-skin (which holds the winds) with silver and gold and treasure for Odysseus alone. Upset that they might be cheated, the impudent, imprudent crew breaks the bag open. They are looking for a windfall, and they get it. All the winds escape and the furious whirlwind blasts them right back to Aeolia.

Back on Aeolia, a devastated Odysseus humbly approaches Aeolus for a second wind, but Aeolus declines: If the gods detest you that much, pal you’re not getting any help from me. Aeolus doesn’t need a weatherman to know which way the winds are blowing. He does not like bad vibes at all, and in the face of them he is surprisingly cold-hearted, dismissive and cynical. The bright, fun, playful, helpful consciousness of Aeolus that Odysseus left behind has already floated away bu the time of the blowback. Aeolus is in “another place ” now. And Odysseus is left holding the (wind) bag. There comes a time in life when you know where you want to go, you get wind of it. You can imagine it. This is the time to pay your respects to dazzling Aeolus who can inspire, clarify and refine the vision: he lets the winds of the imagination propel you to where you want to go – so that you can see what it would be like if your dreams were to come true, so that you can see what Ithaca looks like. Aeolia is the place to envision Home. The central, salient feature of Aeolia is that it is not tied down. It is a (psychological) place with “no fixed location”. Thus Aeolians are always available for wherever the latest breeze takes them; rootless, they can easily and without the slightest embarrassment or apology reverse direction on a whim, and then do it again; consistency is not remotely a concern. Everything is negotiable. They keep their options and opportunities perpetually open.

Aeolia is an ideal place for innovation and improvisation, for taking risks and for experimenting with new ideas. Aeolians are imaginative thinkers because they are not wedded to the conventional wisdom; they are not bound by ‘where they were ‘ in the past. They naturally think outside the boxes that others are wedged in. They will be drawn to the new, the cutting edge, the latest idea. Like the floating island itself, they are not anchored to tradition, or to the past, or even to their own history; their focus is utterly on visioning the exciting and new that is just out of reach. Aeolus special gift is to help the traveler strategize and imagine what is yet to come, and to that he adds his particular brand of spirited enthusiasm; as with our hero, Aeolus gins up an extraordinary picture of what could be, what Ithaca would be like, just the way you imagine and hope for. Aeolians are easily found in the vast professional economy of futurists and imagineers, in think tanks, devising splendid concepts – that galvanize and inspire and promise to bring everyone together in a just and good world. But Aeolians are not so interested in whether the ideas are practical, or in the trodding and plodding groundwork that it will take to get there.