A Novel Reflection: The Happiness of Pursuit
The tagline for Chris Guillebeau’s book is “FINDING THE QUEST THAT WILL BRING PURPOSE TO YOUR LIFE,” in appropriate sized font, albeit in all caps and circled in red – at least for my edition. There are no ready made answers in this book of what quest you should pursue, of which goal might give you meaning. There is no quiz to complete so you might know what suits you best. There are, however, some really great stories.
As I sit at the kitchen table of my friend’s house, like practically every other day of my job search, I wonder if the book wasn’t so much a guide as it was a gentle reminder. If you’re fortunate, you have a number of things that you feel give your life purpose (or at least could if acted upon in the right manner). For the last several years, education has brought purpose to my life. I knew I was making a difference, at least in very small ways, one student at a time. When I picked up this book, I wasn’t looking for a new purpose. I wanted to know what the author had to say about the literal happiness of pursuit – why we get more of a high from going after goals, dreams, or quests rather than the act of finally accomplishing them. I can’t say I found my answer, but I did find inspiration.
While tackling my job situation comes first, I spent some time considering what it is I really want to do. Writing has always been at the top of that list. Becoming an artist has recently been added. Multi-lingual, within a year, I plan on being fluent in French and in the middle of my German studies. Is that a quest? To others, maybe.
These are all the things I’m currently working on. The process is slow, but it is also exciting. Would I consider these quests? No, they are goals. There are no hard time constraints, but estimated deadlines (perhaps it is more wording than anything else there, but it lessens my anxiety about the possibility of failure). So what is it, what is my quest? I spent this whole book contemplating quests, how there are so many things I want to do, and I couldn’t think of anything as epic as what I’d read. But that’s just it. Your quest doesn’t have to be epic in comparison to what’s in this book. If it is an idea that you just can’t get out of your head, the one that keeps nagging you to chase it, the one you don’t really have any excuse to want except that you just do, that is where your quest will come from. That is the direction you should go.
Needless to say, my sense of that direction has been a little skewed over the last six months. During my endeavors to become a multilingual artist and author, I began to notice my conversations often led back to my roots in anthropology. I realized how much I missed it. I would get so excited when discussing folklore and mythology, and that has never been something new. I’ve always loved that. I have consistently found myself thinking about going back into the world of academia and pursuing my fanatical passion for Celtic Studies. I have a thesis in mind regarding Arthurian lore, a quest in and of itself, and it already brings me such joy to even consider. Am I anywhere near accomplishing this? No. Is that okay? In a manner of speaking. I have been able to refocus my attention to what matters the most and how I can make my way there, even if that means it will take a few years.
So, did I find my quest, something that would bring purpose to my life? I would say I was reminded I already had one.