The Tenacity of Apollo

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The Tenacity of Apollo

by Laura Lifshitz-Hernandez

 

It’s fairly probable to say that in one person’s lifetime, he or she will be infatuated with someone, or at the very least, in lust after another individual. Apollo known as the Greek God of light, prophecy, medicine, healing, plagues, music, archery, intellectual inquiry and more, took his infatuation to a level of dedication unsurpassed. He was the original stalker. While Apollo was certainly gifted with numerous talents, he was rather foolish when he mocked the young god of love, Eros. Eros was irritated by Apollo’s incessant singing and negative remarks about his archery, so he cursed Apollo with an infatuation for a poor nymph named Daphne.

 

Daphne was the beautiful daughter of the river god Ladon, and upon Eros’s curse, Apollo pursued Daphne until no end. There was no time for eating, drinking, or rest: tracking down the lovely nymph was Apollo’s sole goal. Daphne, who clearly did not return Apollo’s heated devotion, fled to the mountains in order to hide from the pesky Apollo. Unfortunately, Daphne’s hiding spot was no match for Apollo, whose rapture channeled all of his testosterone up the mountain to find his woman. No pesky mountain was going to keep his lust abated. Daphne was irritated, and rightly so—apparently Apollo wasn’t getting the hint, and so she had to ask the river god Peneus for help. Noticing a theme here? Men in power…males in charge with the ability to change a woman’s fate within minutes? Three men or gods—Apollo, Eros, and Peneus had the power to drastically change one female nymph’s life. Thankfully Peneus answered Daphne’s plea. As the vigorous Apollo approached his woman, he tried to engulf her with his embrace but as he stretched his arm, she transformed into a gorgeous laurel tree. Unable to make love to a tree, Apollo languished in sadness and claimed the laurel tree, his sacred tree.

 

I’m sure Daphne wasn’t exactly looking to become a piece of nature, but if you have the choice between becoming a tree or being raped, I am willing to bet that every woman would gladly become an oak, bonsai, maple, or laurel simply to avoid the violence and violation of rape. Peneus did what he could in his power to prevent Daphne from falling victim to Apollo, and for that, he is a hero beyond what he may be recognized for in Greek Mythology. Sure, Apollo may have viewed his chase as a sign of dedicated love for Daphne, but that type of persistence isn’t charming. It’s scary. The fact is, Apollo wanted her at any cost and he went to literally grab and claim her—owner, and object. That’s not love—that’s violence. No woman or no man for that matter should feel so helpless that he or she needs to dash off to all corners of the world to escape someone else’s sex drive. Eros, the instigator of the trauma, never thought to consider how Daphne might feel as Apollo’s “betrothed”; even though he was irritated by Apollo’s nonsense, he shouldn’t have used someone else as a scapegoat. I guess when you are the god of love though, what other type of spell might you cast?

 

Then one can approach Apollo’s chase for Daphne in a different vein. Had he not been pursuing her for sexual lust, one can see Apollo as a god who refused to let setbacks thwart his goals, or perhaps he was just afraid to let go of what he thought he needed. There is much to be said about this. In our lives as individuals, there are many times in which we fail to push forward for our dreams, and other times in which we pursue empty promises, people, and desires. One of the hardest lessons in life—one that Apollo did not learn—is when to walk away. I have always struggled with knowing when to retreat. I am certainly good at being persistent, chasing “Daphnes” to all corners of the earth—I’m the youngest child for God’s sakes— but it’s walking away when you are exiting the known and entering uncertainty that has always been my greatest fear.

 

In my twenties, I pursued quite a few men who were just really not worth pursuing. I knew deep down that they weren’t such wonderful guys. I knew intellectually that they were cruel, indifferent, noncommittal, or tortured, yet I chased them down a rabbit hole of nothingness. Part of me feels that I did this to avoid thinking about growing up and where I might be headed in life, and the other part suspects I followed these ‘let-downs” so that I wouldn’t ever have to get close to anyone. Running down a broken guy who will never ask me for anything was certainly a waste of energy, but a surefire way to ensure I would never risk my heart. It was a good distraction from thinking about adulthood and which direction to take my life in as well. Boys were diversions…not love. Besides, I don’t think I believed I really deserved real love and connection in the first place. I attracted what I put out there: my message was, “I’m busy, broken and distracted,” and therefore, I attracted busy, broken, and distracted people. I claim my mistakes, and see that there was a reason certain people entered my life while I relentlessly pursued nothingness. I find that other people tend to struggle with this. When a bad relationship breaks up or someone discovers his or her partner to be a bad person, people have a tough time holding themselves to the light and asking, “Why did I bring this person into my life?” Somehow, we all send a vibe of what we will endure or accept in another person. We must come to terms why we let people in…and out of our lives. For myself, I learned that my tenacity towards empty relationships was a mountain not worth climbing. I had to walk away and take the risk of facing both of my fears: being a failure, and getting hurt. It took me a long time before I stopped clinging to my laurel tree, but eventually I retreated to find more for myself.

 

In that same mindset, I let certain men, really let’s call them diversions, feed me these ridiculous meals of self-doubt; one guy told me I would never graduate college and couldn’t write, yet when he said that, did I kick him in the balls? No, I wondered if he was indeed, right. I wondered if I could finish college. I wondered if I could write. I questioned if I were funny. I almost walked away from everything because of the evil three-course meal of bullcrap that this fool fed me. I did walk away temporarily (only to return because thankfully I’m not a fool) from performing, and I will always knee myself in my metaphorical balls for that moment of backsliding. How could I let one person stand in the way of catching a goal worth attaining at all costs? How could I almost totally walk away from things that meant so much to me, like writing or college? I am so glad I didn’t. It is amazing how we can start to rewrite ourselves into someone else’s narrative or plot for us. How we can walk away from something that is so inextricably linked to our happiness because we are doubtful or susceptible to other weak people?

 

Some goals are worth never retreating from, and while Daphne was not one of these, if there is something that means so much to you that your life will be less without it—a dream, person, or hobby—then follow Apollo on his chase. You may never reach that dream…or you may reach it only to find that the beautiful nymph you so coveted is now simply just a tree, but if you know you will end up with no regrets, you will be happier for it. Learning what to chase is part of growing up, yet these journeys shape us into what we will become.

About the Author: A contributor to Whispers From Greece, Laura Lifshitz-Hernandez is a comedienne, writer, and former MTV personality. To read more, dash over to: http://frommtvtomommy.com/.

 

Follow her @LauraLifshitz & on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lauralifshitzwriter

 

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