Tools For Your Kit
A quest makes you a better person as you embrace the challenge and adapt to unexpected circumstances. – Chris Guillebeau
I don’t know that I believe the adage that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe in serendipity – those lightning in a bottle moments when the planets all seem to align and allow us to see things in a way that we simply couldn’t before. In Pulp Fiction, Jules describes one to Vincent as “what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity.” Over the past several months I’ve experienced an above average number of them. I admit that it could be that I’m consciously looking for them, searching for signs as we have discussed on several episodes of On Taking Pictures. But, it could also be that I’m just ready to see them. Purpose, intent and a willingness to let go of the wheel for a minute have allowed something else to catch my attention – like a reflection in the corner of my eye – just enough to look at things a little differently. Small moves, Ellie, small moves.
Yesterday, Chase Jarvis posted excerpts from an interview with author Chris Guillebeau around his new book The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life. Full disclosure, though I’ve yet to read Chris’ book – I’m going to a book signing at Vroman’s next week – it looks like something that is definitely in my wheel house. When asked what prompted him to write the book, Chris responded “I wanted to tell the story of real-life adventures and modern-day quests. I spent 10 years visiting every country in the world — but the best part was hearing the stories of other people who had also chosen to cultivate the value of adventure in their lives. I didn’t want to just write a memoir, in other words. I wanted to present an agenda: “a quest can improve your life, and here’s how you craft one.”
One question, and more importantly the answer to it, stood out for me in Chris’ interview with Chase to make me really want to read this book:
Chase: “I’ve often gotten lost during my trajectory toward a goal. And looking back it has been because I’d poorly defined those goals. Your book cuts thru that nonsense (and the challenges that face most people) by making goals a “quest”. What defines a quest?”
Chris: “A quest has a beginning and an end. There’s something you work toward over time—and there are usually multiple stages or milestones along the way. Challenge is the essence of a good quest. It shouldn’t be that easy! Lastly, something unexpected usually happens along the way. You can’t help but be changed through the journey. A quest makes you a better person as you embrace the challenge and adapt to unexpected circumstances.”
Understandably, not all goals will fit the quest metaphor – not everything has a definable or quantifiable end point. But for me, books like this or Body of Work or Die Empty (two of my current reads) are not singular end all be all solutions, but rather they offer additional tools, lessons and insights to put in my kit. My father had two enormous tool boxes in his workshop and whenever I would ask him why he had so many, he would say “you’ve gotta use the right tool for the job, son, and you never know what you might need down the road.” Well said, Pop.