O F  H O M E R,   J U N I P E R O   S E R R A
&  S T A N L E Y   K U B R I C K

by Timothy Pennell

The writer is one of the founders of La Serranía. Raised with a pioneering spirit in
Canada, Tim studied and worked in England, California, Austria and Eastern Europe
before settling in Mallorca, where he now arranges retreats.

While driving my daughter to kindergarten the other morning, I noticed that in place of the sheep that usually graze on a little hill next to the road, there was a large, round, smooth object that reminded me of the opening scene to "2001 - A Space Odyssey."  Knowing that the owner of the field is something of an art connoisseur, I quickly realized that this was rural sculpture and I have named the object the Stanley Kubrick Memorial.

This train of thought passed through my mind at a fortunate moment, for just then I was trying to decide on a name for the new feature of the La Serranía website, which this essay introduces. I feel that ODYSSEYS is appropriate, not simply because this is 2001, but because it represents what La Serranía is all about and what I hope will be projected in the series of essays that will follow in coming months.

Homer's Odyssey can be described as a search for what has been lost and I believe this is a central aspect of the workshops that we hold at La Serranía.  Creativity, openness and innocence, free of the constraining prejudices that we subject ourselves to in modern society. Michael Grant has written that "in the Odyssey we find the products, not of memory, still less of reason, but of imagination."  And surely it is imagination, together with the courage to pursue it, that makes a life interesting, exciting and meaningful.

The underlying ambition in establishing La Serranía was to help people through their struggle with this conflict - the demand for conformity on the one side and the thirst for individuality on the other.  Our expanding programmes of workshops provide opportunities for participants to learn how to express themselves with greater confidence and clarity as artists, as writers, as managers - and how to take a deeper responsibility for their own physical and spiritual well-being.

A short workshop can offer a powerful boost, releasing blocks and opening new doors, but it needs to be sustained.  In our monthly ODYSSEYS we intend to offer ongoing inspiration and support to those who have attended our workshops as well as to anyone else who feels an affinity with our goals.  In this sense, we like to think that, with the help of modern commun- ications, La Serranía will stretch beyond the constraints of place and time to become a vibrant forum for a far wider community than hitherto.

The pioneering spirit of an Odyssey has been implicit at La Serranía since its conception six years ago - the name is actually based on Junipero Serra, the Franciscan priest from Mallorca who established the missions of California in the eighteenth century.  There have been many uncertainties along the way and I am sure that many people thought we were crazy, yet our intuition has told us time and time again that we are doing a good thing.

During our first season, there was a guest who admitted she had been rather disturbed when she first discovered there was no TV at La Serranía, but then she adjusted to the new environment and reported with delight that she had read a book for the first time in two years. Since then we have been repeatedly astonished at the refreshingly positive attitudes of the people who come to our workshops - as the song goes, "People say 'Good Morning' and really mean it" - and it has been particularly satisfying in our second year to have people return and tell us how their life has been influenced for the better by their previous retreat at La Serranía.

In my own personal life also, these years have demanded introspection and difficult life choices, bringing with them both pain and joy.  I feel indebted to the many friends who have given me all types of support through this period and I hope that their generosity and goodwill has been deserved.  And for the first time I have begun to feel that, here in Mallorca, where both my father and his parents were laid to rest, I have found one or two angels to guide me in my own Odyssey.

On this note I wish to express my deep gratitude to the contributors of upcoming ODYSSEYS and my fervent hope that their works will help our readers to find their way home, wherever and whatever that may be.


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