In ancient Greek mythology, Hermes is the god of the traveler. A trickster by nature (like many of us), Hermes represents those who live by their wits. For ages travelers have left piles of rocks along roads, since it is believed that Hermes resides within, to help guide them to find their way.
Ever since Kai and I started reading the D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, the story of Hermes has haunted me. This joyful, yet sometimes shady god, is meant to protect people on their journeys, while also being the one who guides the dead to the underworld.
This life of a traveler that I have chosen, this life that I am teaching my children about, often makes others shake their heads, perplexed at the audacity of teaching your kids about the world by actually going out into it.
But, they often ask with wonder, how are they doing with all this? By all this, I suppose they mean the displacement and the home-lessness, and the constant bouncing around.
Well the short answer is that my kids are troopers. Survivors. They live what they know. And my kids know traveling. We arrived in Santa Cruz a week ago and immediately started exploring the area like travelers, leaving little gifts for our friend Hermes along the way.
In this land where the sea meets those glorious redwoods, we’ve spent every day constructing elaborate wooden and sand sculptures at Seacliff State Beach in Aptos. While a touch on the stinky side, this beach is perfect for sunset walks along the path to Rio Del Mar, bike rides, and exploring the pier and sunken luxury liner that is now a bird sanctuary. Of course the kids love it once I inspire them to put the shoes on and walk the five minutes it takes to get there from our vacation rental.
Yesterday, I wanted something different, so we rode our bikes to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, an overlooked redwood park sliced by a gentle stream. I was feeling overwhelmed by homeschooling Kai. The teacher in me wanted him to produce more. I had had a pep-talk with our homeschool teacher/consultant, Marni the night before, and she reminded me that 6 year olds are supposed to ride bikes and climb trees and most importantly have fun. Not sit in a classroom all day “learning.”
So we let Hermes guide us on a new path. With each step into the lush green forest, I was reminded that I have never done anything in the traditional manner. Why would I think picking a home, raising children, and living life would be anything short of unique, miraculous, and mine? Right this moment, with Hermes by my side, I feel strong in my commitment to create my own reality instead of conforming to the expectations of others.
It’s not like all those people who think they’ve got it figured out are any happier than I am.