So, how does the Havamal start? Like this:
Young and alone on a long road,
once I lost my way:
Rich I felt when I found another;
Man rejoices in man,
A kind word need not cost much,
The price of praise can be cheap:
With half a loaf and an empty cup
I found myself a friend,
Two wooden stakes stood on the plain,
On them I hung my clothes;
Draped in linen, they looked well born,
But, naked, I was a nobody.
Too early to many homes I came,
Too late, it seemed, to some:
The ale was finished or else un-brewed,
The unpopular cannon please,
Some would invite me to visit their homes,
But none thought I needed a meal,
As though I had eaten a whole joint,
Just before with a friend who had two.
We start the poem on the road. Which makes sense, since Odhinn would be talking to His people, not to Thor's people or Heartha's people, etc. (Thor's men, being working men, are more tied to the lands/fields of home.) Being on the road means you have given up the comforts of home in search of something more. It's not like doing this make you the equivalent of the 'superior man' in the I Ching, but it DOES speak of a certain amount of ambition or drive to better oneself and ones position in life.
Or, as we say in Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF) - why not excellence?
And yet ....
There's clearly a difference between leaving one's comfort zone and being lost and alone. Guides, companions ... humans were then, and still are now, tribal. We may define tribe differently now, it can be family/kith/kin, neighbors/garth, religion based, politically based, economically based, whatever. But no one does it totally alone. Your tribe IS part of your riches.
Which leads, of course, to the issue of hospitality and how one treats strangers and travelers. Not only could you be the stranger/traveler soon, but the stranger at your door could be Odhinn (or Zeus, or Hermes, or Macha, or Finn, or.... well, you Pagans get it). True, being on the road now isn't a much a life-threatening challenge it was back in the day.
Simple politeness is clearly the essence of hospitality. Giving kind words, sharing half a loaf.
Then the 'don't mistake fine clothes for a fine person'. Just as true now with fashion ad pricy clothes as it was then with linen vs. rough working folks clothes!
And don't mistake having fine clothes with being well-fed, either on the road or at home, actually. Assume that others need care and feeding - offer food, drink, again, common courtesy.
Actually, this sort of brings up eating with your guests/business meetings/etc. "Gosh we've run out of food' for you, or "we don't eat good food here, so have none to share" are old tricks. Egyptians not eating with others is mentioned in the Bible, and now kashrut laws for Jews and Halal vs Haram food issues for Moslems, not to mention trying to offer hospitality to vegans or trying to account for food allergies, can really cause problems in offering hospitality. Where do the responsibility of good host vs good guest get drawn? Back then, it was just 'share what you have'. Now - we smoke a damn fine pulled pork here, but it's sure not something I can offer my kosher relatives (some of which won't eat in my house at all).
Thus ends part 1 of our look at the Havamal. More to come! This WILL take a while, and may or may not be a daily thing - depends on how life goes. After all, I still have recipes to share, and opinions on what's happening in the world to spout, too.