Saturday, April 20, 2013

Questing and Traveling

Quest (n.): a search or pursuit made in order to find or obtain something: a quest for uranium mines; a quest for knowledge (

A quest is traditionally a journey, for one seldom gets what one wants by standing still, but nowadays quests take place in one place (usually New York City), whether for a job, for a partner, or for a good public school. The hero doesn't stand still; she (or he) runs around, often in circles. It's a rat race.

Maybe that is unfair. Stories don't only take place in the City Where Nothing Is Ever Good Enough The City that Never Sleeps. Stories can take place wholly in a small town, where the moving is of the souls, usually towards each other, whether in new love or healing old hurt.

Traditional quests though, are about moving and searching and encountering things stranger and greater than seen at home. What is the purpose of questing? What are we searching for when we travel? To see from different perspectives? Perhaps to find a different place, because one never belonged anyway. Either way, you always come back changed.

I am starting to like the quotes on Mindbloom, or at least my collection of them. Among quotes devoted to treating your body like a temple, eating well to live well, and treating the earth respectfully are quotes related to the usefulness of art, imagination, and books. I need more quotes about books. Books are a wonderful way to travel, not only through places and on quests, but through other people's eyes.

A sociology professor at my university once quoted a man who said, "I don't read books. I live them." I don't see why one can't do both. So that is what I am trying to do. I want to live a life worth writing about. I hope it won't be a tragedy, or even a drama. But I do hope it might be a travelogue. My AP Literature teacher confused the hell out of me by asking us (while we were studying Heart of Darkness) what the point of a travelogue was (and then never telling us). I have thought long and hard about what the point is. I still don't have the answer.

Instead, I'll just share a few of my favorite quotes about traveling.

For Perspective and Education
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." – Henry Miller
"Travel far enough, you meet yourself." – David Mitchell

For it's own Sake 
“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ursula K. Leguin
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
"To travel is to live." – Hans Christian Anderson

Miscellaneous: For Adventure, Renewal, and to Seek
"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." – Anon
“You lose sight of things… and when you travel, everything balances out.” – Daranna Gidel
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin

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