My Life Dilemma: To Quest or Not to Quest
That is the question.
I’m not trying to wax philosophical like Shakespeare
(ok, maybe I am)
is this not the GRAND QUESTION OF THEM ALL??!
To Quest or Not to Quest
This is life in a nutshell.
My life, your life, all of our lives:
to play it safe, go for “security”–
or to take risks and go into the unknown,
to live on our edge
and be vulnerable to life.
Not just be vulnerable.
To realize that there’s really no other way to be.
Our sense of control is totally an illusion.
Imagine you worked twenty-five years as an airline pilot and were finally ready to retire and get your pension. You’ve given your life to this company, and now it’s time to get taken care of by them.
Four months later… the company announces that it can’t pay pensions.
Your whole life, you have believed that your pension was as real as the ground you walk on. Now, it’s gone.
This is just one example of many.
What we believe is solid ground can be lost in a single moment.
Our health. Our loved ones. Our jobs. Our home. Our possessions. Our life.
Now, I realize all this…
it doesn’t make it any easier for me to choose!
The illusion of security, much like in The Matrix when Cypher bites into the steak, knowing it’s not really real, is so tantalizing.
I talked to my friend, Lee, today. I call him whenever I’m struggling with a major life decision. He’s my unofficial “Life Coach.”
I told him about my current dilemma:
I just quit my gig working for a sexologist in LA.
I have an option of doing another work/live opportunity in Simi Valley, just 40mi. north of LA, learning about aquaponics, getting certified to teach archery and leading groups in other nature activities. I’d be working with a good friend, too.
I have another option coming back to Florida and working with my brother, which would afford me a lot of security and ease, and the ability to do my writing and other pursuits on the side.
Both of them are, at least on paper, good options. At least temporarily, I’d probably be more than fine in both places.
But I feel like my time isn’t finished on the West Coast–that I have more to learn and experience before leaving (assuming that I do).
When I told Lee about my dilemma, he reminded me of one of the parts of one of my favorite novels, The Alchemist, when the main character is questing and ends up in a village working at a crystal shop.
He was following his dream, but then got caught up in a job that ended up being quite… comfortable. He had his basic needs taken care of, and he had the opportunity to advance and become ever more comfortable, perhaps never having to worry about his “security” again.
But that’s when he remembered:
I’m on a quest.
I may have creature comfort, but if I forget this dream that beckons me to explore something deeper… and I never do, I will regret it for the rest of my life.
So, he leaves and his quest, of course, becomes an epic, death-defying, beautiful adventure of imaginable proportions.
Is this guaranteed of everyone who takes the gamble and goes on a quest?
And that’s some of what makes it a true quest, isn’t it?
There are no guarantees.
But, then again, maybe that also depends on our perspective.
From the place of looking at life as finite, maybe it can go horribly. But if we zoom out, and we take the perspective of the mystics who pretty much all say that “death” isn’t really an end, perhaps we can’t lose–even if it seems like a disaster.
This idea is probably best illustrated in one of my all-time favorite movies (yes, another), Pan’s Labyrinth.
This is truly a magical movie, so if you haven’t seen it, you might want to skip the next section until you see the words, safe to read, below…
At the end of the movie, the main character dies, choosing to sacrifice herself to save her little brother, believing in a magical reality of which many signs had led her to believe was real.
But she didn’t actually have confirmation of this reality until after she had put everything on the line.
It was a quintessential leap of faith.
Safe to read.
This is a meandering post, I know.
But maybe that’s life.
Maybe all our plans are pitted against the void.
And we can plan as much as we’d like, to hedge against its aggressive incursion, but in the end, it’s all futile.
Ok, Alex, let’s not get all melodramatic here.
Yes, yes… we all die. We know that. But there’s the space in between when we’re alive, in these bodies, and it’s truly a unique experience–and maybe the only one we’ll ever get–so might as well enjoy it; might as well live it fully and experience as much as you can.
But haven’t you just proved my point?
Because what I’m talking about is truly experiencing life, and not just living on the sidelines.
So, is the question of questing really a question after all?
Isn’t the question really just one of how much we’re willing to risk?
Each risk takes us on a new adventure.
And, often, if we get too comfortable, life has a way of turning our lives upside down, anyway.
So, good luck trying to stay comfortable.
This post is ending.
I still don’t know what I’m going to do.
I’m still scared to step into the unknown.
I’m still tempted to choose security–
and if I do,
there’s nothing wrong with it.
I might choose stability for my next step, and then use it as a stepping stone for a later adventure.
There’s not right or wrong here, but perhaps there is the question of honesty.
Am I choosing illusion,
or am I questing–whether toward stability or insecurity–
with eyes wide open?