Goodness · Truth

How a Podcast on “The Odyssey” Changed the Way I Think

I consider myself a creative person. I constantly have thoughts, ideas, and plans running in and out of my mind. I am inspired by so much around me…people, places, nature, circumstances, etc. The constancy of my mind in motion can become tiresome though, and knowing which ideas or thoughts I should pursue and which ones to let go can be hard to discern.


We live in a time where good opportunities are endless! Even if you don’t think of yourself as a creative person I’m sure you have been presented with ideas and pursuits to consider. The phrase, “Saying ‘yes’ to something means saying ‘no’ to something else,” carries the intrinsic message that we cannot do it all. We must make choices and decide what to pursue and what to let go.

But how do we make choices between the good things that come our way? 

This is most definitely a topic that has been talked about a lot. There are books about it, blog posts, and magazine articles too. I even found a WikiHow article on how to make decisions between two things! (There are 8 steps with pictures, in case you are interested!) As compelling as the WikiHow article is, I want to share another, unexpected, thought with you that came after listening to two grown men speak about Homer’s “The Odyssey” on a podcast. When I first tuned in to listen I never expected to gain a filter to run all of my future decision making processes through, but that’s exactly what I got.


How a podcast changed the way I think…

Being in my early years of classically home educating my kids, it would seem natural to seek out minds much wiser and further down the road than me to learn from as I navigate this journey. I’ve just recently started listening to podcasts more, and one of my favorites is the CiRCE Institute. From the first time I heard Andrew Kern, the president of the CiRCE institute, speak at a homeschool conference I was sure that he would be a great mind to encourage and inspire me. I enjoyed listening to him and hearing what he had to say, so I thought I would try out a different podcast of his rather than the usual ones. (Ask Andrew and the Mason Jar are my go to.) For some reason this is what I chose that day:

“A Perpetual Feast #6: How to tell the difference between the siren and the muse”

Here’s the description of the podcast:

“Where Andrew Kern and Wes Callihan discuss Homer, Homer, and all of the things that Homer makes them think about.” 

Now, I’m not what you would call a Homer aficionado. I have had a very limited exposure to his writings and that exposure came over 15 years ago in high school! But, something about the discussion on telling the difference between sirens and muses intrigued me.

Sirens generally carry a negative association when considered. You would probably imagine a beautiful creature singing a beautiful song and seeking to lure in unsuspecting sailors causing them to wreck leaving them stranded or worse. Muses on the other hand bring a better picture to mind. A muse is often considered something that helps creativity flow. It helps a writer to write. A painter to paint. A singer to sing a new song. Muses help stir thoughts and move people along. In the podcast conversation, the discussion on the sirens and muses dealt with remembering.

In the Odyssey, the sirens wanted Odysseus to forget what he was doing and what his goal was (getting back home), while the muses helped him remember his task.

This thought and this conversation on remembering brought to mind the many things that can keep me from remembering my true focus and goals as well as lure me and distract me from actually pursuing opportunities that will accomplish the goals I have. 

For me, my ultimate and overarching goal in life is to glorify the Lord no matter what I do. I want to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and become more like Him. I want to point others to Him every chance I have. I want to pursue opportunities that bring me closer to this goal and not drive me further from it.

When considering an opportunity or a new pursuit ask yourself this question, “Will this help me remember and drive me closer to my greatest goals, or will it detract me and tempt me to forget what is most important? Is this option a siren, or a muse?

Only One LifeIn the grand span of eternity, we have a relatively few short years on this earth. If we live for the here and now, then that’s all there is and all there will be. But, if we live for what is to come and make it our goal to live for what is eternal, the rewards themselves will be eternal.

I don’t think there will ever be an end to the seemingly millions of directions my mind goes in at times. Even tonight, I saw a cute handmade shop with such a cute niche idea, and my mind went:

Should I pursue something like that? Would it be a good opportunity? She’s doing great in that field, so maybe I could too? Could I be good at it? What if I did _____? Or how about ______ instead?

And on, and on, and on it goes! For me, slowing down and really taking a moment to consider the “thing” that just popped into my mind and ask if it is more of a siren or a muse has been extremely helpful. Weeding through the mess that is my mind can be crazy sometimes, and I’m thinking I’m not alone here. So many options, opportunities, and ideas, but what is your heart beat? What is your goal? Say yes to the things that will put you closer and not drive you farther from it.

Say No to as many good things that you can, so that you are free to say Yes to the best things that only you can do, those things you were created to do.

Myquillyn Smith

I want to make decisions and choose opportunities that are going to move me closer to the ends of glorifying God, becoming more like Him, and pointing others to Him. Those are the things that will have lasting worth.  



4 thoughts on “How a Podcast on “The Odyssey” Changed the Way I Think

  1. Hi Heather. I just stopped over after reading your guest post on Erin Ulerich’s blog and I must wholeheartedly agree with the previous comment. You had me at Kern. Just last week I was telling me how often I came home from a walk/Circe podcast combination feeling challenged in my life as a wife, a mom, a teacher, a Christian, a human being. (And my walks aren’t all that long!) Anyway, I’m glad to have found you. Thanks for sharing your words of help and hope here and at Erin’s blog.

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, and for saying hi! I was so glad to have Erin share my words on her page and do pray they are helpful. And yes, hooray for Andrew Kern! So thankful for all they are doing over at Circe!

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