Gilgamesh and Tai Chi on a Summer’s Morn in New Hampshire: An Odyssey for 21st-Century Adventurers

Thompson Bridge, West Swanzey, New Hampshire ( circa 1915, public domain).

There comes a time when everyone experiences despair and defeat. “Blown off course” as Odysseus was in Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, one must find a way back to one’s chosen path, or blaze another trail, using wit, intuition and grit to transform life’s circumstances from detrimental to favorable. Though the individual challenges and solutions may vary from one person to the next, the common goal for every human being across the globe is remarkably similar — finding the strength within to triumph over adversity and become the hero of one’s own life story.

Road Scholar, a Boston-based non-profit, aims to help busy adults achieve greater success in this regard by providing soul-searching humans with six days of time in a serene, New Hampshire setting to reconnect with nature while gaining new perspective on life by reflecting on the lessons presented in several of the greatest classics of literature — Gilgamesh; Homer’s The Odyssey; The Thousand and One Nights (also known as Arabian Nights), and Monkey: A Folk-Tale of China, Arthur Waley’s abridged translation of the sixteenth-century Chinese novel, Journey to the West.

In addition to discussing the major themes of these classic adventure stories and delving into the travel routes, beliefs and life arcs of their respective heroes, participants will be given the opportunity to participate in morning Tai Chi sessions and explore the beauty of New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region through day trips to covered bridges and historic towns within a ten-mile radius of Pilgrim Pines Camp and Retreat Center in West Swanzey.

The program, “Epic Tales: Gilgamesh, Homer’s Odyssey, Arabian Night & More,” will run from August 25 to August 30, 2019, and is specially priced at $729 per person with no extra cost charged for single rooms. In addition to five nights of accommodation, the package includes fifteen meals, ten lectures and three field trips led by experts, and admission to one performance and one hands-on experience, as well as the Road Scholar Assurance Plan, customary gratuities, and taxes.

Participants will also have the opportunity to relax and enjoy personal time at the retreat center. Established prior to 1920, Pilgrim Pines was launched as a Christian camp for residents of Cromwell, Connecticut, who subsequently chose to move their facility to West Swanzey, rather than have its serenity shattered by increased construction and land development. The New Hampshire site remains a ministry program of the East Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Travel to and from the center may be undertaken through a combination of air and automobile or train and automobile with the cost dependent on various factors, such as the traveler’s departing city of origin.

In addition to keeping brains nimble, such Road Scholar programs also confer additional benefits — the chance for participants to ponder the uncertainty and misunderstandings which can occur when people experience new cultures for the first time, the desire to grow by seeing through another’s eyes, and the joy which comes from understanding and valuing another human’s “way of being.”

Of the cunning hero,
The wanderer, blown off course time and again….

Speak, Immortal One,
And tell the tale once more in our time.

— Homer, The Odyssey, Book I


For more information, visit “Epic Tales: Gilgamesh, Homer’s Odyssey, Arabian Night & More” (Program No. 23620RJ).

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