October 26, 2006

Vento navigat suo

In English: He sails by his own wind.

I chose this saying because of the proverbs over the past two days related to Simonides and his shipwreck, and other wise men facing similar disasters. Today's proverb is the opposite of a shipwreck. Instead, it is about someone who makes his way in the world, sailing by his own wind. It's a kind of a nautical Frank Sinatra: I did it my way!

The proverb actually comes from Ovid's Remedia Amoris, the "Cures for Love." Ovid had earlier written "The Art of Love," and in the "Cures" he provides the remedies for the love he had previously sought to induce and provoke. At the beginning of the treatise, the god Cupid is angry at Ovid for being such a traitor, and Ovid insists that he only wants to help unhappy lovers cure themselves. A happy lover is someone who should sail by the breeze of the love that carries him forward:
Siquis amat quod amare iuvat, feliciter ardens
Gaudeat, et vento naviget ille suo.

If someone loves what in pleases him to love, let him ardently rejoice in his happiness, and let him sail by his own wind.
I like very much that the idea behind the Latin saying of "sailing by your own wind" is the idea of a wind of passion, of love, of joy. It reminds me of Joseph Campbell's famous advice: follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. My general formula for my students is "Follow your bliss." Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it.
Of course, it's much easier to follow your bliss when you imagine it is the wind filling your sails!

So, take a moment just to think about where your bliss might lead you, and listen to today's proverb read out loud:

1052. Vento navigat suo.

The number here is the number for this proverb in Latin Via Proverbs: 4000 Proverbs, Mottoes and Sayings for Students of Latin.

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