To Quest Or Not To Quest

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

As a frequent traveler, who has visited 50 countries, I am impressed by Chris Guillebeau, a man almost half my age (35) who has visited 193 countries. Chris Guillebeau, is the author of a number of books including, “The Happiness of Pursuit.” Or to give homage to Mark Twain, it can be subtitled “Finding The Quest That Will Bring Purpose To Your Life.” The premise is that every person needs a personal quest to understand why they were born. His quest was to visit every country in the world as defined by the United Nations.

The book explains how choosing a quest can give purpose and direction to your life, and simultaneously instilling happiness and satisfaction. In fact Guillebeau suggests that it is the journey that results in the feeling of happiness and not necessarily the completion of the voyage.

The first chapter reads like a travelogue of his experience and travel adventure while pursuing his goal. Sleeping on a plastic chair at the Dakar, Senegal airport while waiting the 6 hours for his connecting flight to the tiny Republic of Guiana-Bissau, the final country on the African continent on his list. He explains how he tied the straps of his laptop around his leg to prevent theft while he slept but then admitted that he couldn’t doze too long because of the swarms of mosquitoes.

He includes stories submitted by diverse individuals, all pursuing their unique quests that require slow but steady movement towards a goal, highlighted with moments of glory. One cannot simply arrive at this holy grail. A quest must be a journey toward a specific goal and must include small victories throughout the process, logistical timelines, and most importantly some level of personal growth. The quests that he writes about are not all travel related. Questers include a housewife’s culinarily journey, a teenager crossing the ocean solo and stories of athletic or artistic quests that involve overcoming great challenges.

Pablo Picasso said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

A closer look at the concept of personal quests can certainly be enlightening and satisfying to the individual but isn’t it really very selfish. What negative impact does all this travel have on his family and community?

Let’s consider a less personal quest and a more community based quest. Obviously one person can not tackle community wide problems. Maybe, a quester can pursue a mini-quest in their neighborhood utilizing ones personal strengths that would match a specific need. For example if your strength is legal knowledge and skill, attempt to correct an injustice in your neighborhood as a mini-quest, or a personal quest to fight local poverty, or a quest to save a specific threat to the environment.

Find a need; look around your community and neighborhood, identify your personal strengths and weaknesses. A mini-quest can begin to make the world a better place, and like a personal quest will also make you happy.

Mini-quests can improve and impact your community with the help of grants that are available for these types of endeavors. GrantWatch is a good resource to use for finding some of these grants.

Well said, Mark Twain and Pablo Picasso. Your words are definitely meaningful.

About the Author: Jake Tewel holds a Masters Degree from YU, a wine seller, caterer and a million miler for the past 15 years. Jake is a best friend, great neighbor, your go to travel person, father, grandfather and loving husband. He is now focusing his efforts on heart healthy nutrition, exercise and travel.

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