I think it is common for us, as human beings, to search for purpose and meaning in our time on earth. Psychologist Erik Erikson reminds us that, in the final stage of life, our task is to look back on our journey and contemplate our achievements. Those who see their lives as unproductive experience despair. Those who look back with a sense of closure and completeness move on to face death without fear.
Fear not. The Happiness of Pursuit has been added to the collection at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. This book offers itself up as a tool to help readers “find a quest that will bring purpose to their lives.” Chris Guillebeau, (author of The $100 Startup), interviewed people who hit a turning point in their life that catapulted them onto a quest. He provides an overview of their stories and details on how they are bringing their missions to fruition.
Here are a few of my favorites and I hope they illustrate that there is an adventure out there for everyone:
- After receiving a melanoma diagnosis at the age of 50, Phoebe Snetsinger kicked an interest in birds into high gear and began a quest to document more bird species than any other person alive. She continually challenged herself to travel to remote locations. Her cancer went into remission, she lived for another 18 years and wrote a memoir entitled Birding on Borrowed Time. She also completed her quest, documenting 8,398 species.
- Kristen Goldberg penned a bucket list for herself at the age of 16. It contained 42 things she wanted to accomplish before she died. She picked up the list again as an adult, (now an English teacher and mother of two), and made it her mission to fulfill every item on the list with no modifications. From riding a motorcycle to bathing in a waterfall to running a marathon, she is doing it all. She says it has been enlightening to rediscover the adventurer she was as a young girl, but in hindsight might have left “Visit a nude beach” off the list.
- Sasha Martin wanted to expose her family to different cultures. With young children and limited resources, Sasha got creative. She decided that each week she would cook a meal from a different country. Beginning with Afghanistan, Albania and Algeria, she cooked her way around the world in alphabetical order. The quest took 195 weeks to complete. By the time she finished, her children were as comfortable using chopsticks as silverware and had first-hand knowledge of every cuisine in the world.
There are so many more quests in the book. People who went on fifty dates in fifty states. People who gave $10 to a different nonprofit organization every day. People who attended a game at every Major League Baseball stadium. It is proof that the world is filled with opportunity, and it is there for the taking.
Perhaps this book will catapult you onto a quest of your own. Life is short, but I do believe there is always time to start something new. In fact, there is no time like the present. Happy reading and happy questing.