Friday, January 8, 2010

Quest

So you've got your basics:

King Arthur searches for the holy grail. Er. He sends his knights to search for the grail. Galahad the pious finds it, depending on the version you read, and immediately is taken to heaven. Camelot, unfortunately, is already poisioned by the sinful nature of (wo)man and the ideal kingdom is set to fall, depite the victorious (for Galahad, we assume) quest.

Dante goes on a perilous quest through hell (literally!) in search of a new path, one that leads away from the "dark wood of error." Fortunately for Dante, he is able to ascend out of Inferno into Purgatorio, and then he vacations in Paradiso, lucky man.

Tolkien wrote about the overlooked (wink), undervalued hobbit whose quest is to destroy that which will bring ultimate destruction to the earth. He's successful in his quest, but is unable to endure this mortal coil, thus he sails to the Undying Lands in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

I could go on, for there are a billion, trillion (give or take) examples. Suffice it to say that research proves a recurring progression:

Desire --> Quest -->Success for the "worthy" --> immediate ascension into heaven, commonly known to most people as death. Immediate death. Unable to enjoy the success of the quest on this earth because you are dead.. which, on one hand, is good because you're in paradise. I guess. Oh, and there's the perk of minstrels writing songs about your battles, astronomers assigning you a permanent constellation, and poets writing you into legend, etc. But really, you could care less because you are, as I've mentioned before, dead.

So, why the hell are we - the common folk - always questing?

My life has been a series of little "questia minima" in the form of agenda items with tick boxes next to them.

college
husband
career
house
baby

And if life continues as is, the following:
retirement
grandkids
winnebago

Or something like that.

That's not enough for me. I am ready for a "Questius Maximus".

I understand, first of all, that I'm not "worthy" - neither pure, nor strong, nor (very) focused - and that negates the optimal climax and paradisic conclusion for me. There are no Ginger constellations in my future. I'm Ok with that. I also understand that quests can be life changing and can lead to disappointment, as do most earthy desires. But I would like to veer off course, away from the agenda and those little tick boxes that we love to check.

Isn't a journey worth anything?

"The play's the thing..."

This post was inspired by the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a small and feisty(!) global community. We write weekly on a common topic (Quest, this week) and post responses - all of us together, simultaneously, from all over the world. (Lovely!) Please visit Anu, Ashok, Conrad, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria and Ramana for other wonderful posts.

9 comments:

Rummuser said...

Ginger, the journey is everything. Full stop, period.

Grannymar said...

Now and the journey are what it is all about. Why waste time on what might never be?

Maria said...

Must agree that the journey is everything and living in the moment is well-worth it. But Gee, I love the idea of a Winnebago in your future at retirement time. Maybe because Rving in our Pulse is so much fun. Come to think of it, why wait. . . if you can afford it, do it now on week-ends.

Conrad said...

Yes, unless you want to be a fictional character I think the journey as experienced is it. But ... journey with passion! No one can deny you that. You get all the joy of the fictional quest without all the mess of immediately being snuffed.

I like the advice to one of Hesse's characters: learn to appreciate the symphony on an AM Radio.

Judy Harper said...

Me, I like my tick boxes, it keeps me focused. That's the way to see where I'm going. It seems as though every time I do something spontaneous, I really mess up! Thanks for choosing this subject to write about. Because while life is a journey, the pursuit is what makes it interesting!

K a b l o o e y said...

Interesting. I suck at checking off boxes. (I balk at boxes. Toe the box, back up, turn around. Get coffee. Come back. Get absorbed in something and forget box. Worry about if it's the "right" box... you get the idea.) But I'm on a self-described quest this year, and mine's 100% about the journey. I think so, anyway, but it's definitely not about the heareafter because...um... I don't believe in it. Interesting, as always; thanks.

Magpie 11 said...

I hate tick boxes... smack too much of government interference for me.

However I loved the tongue in cheek approach to the topic.... I just couldn't find an approach of that ilk for my post.

Let's all face it..it ends in death... I wonder what it is like to be really naughty? Maybe....

Lisa (the girls' moma) said...

"Risk" is how I described it, so many months of posts ago, and you use the word "quest" -- either way, I knew once that I was meant for something. I just didn't know what. I wonder who's laughing now at the journey I'm currently on, which of the ones Dante and Virgil got to see in His own element.

At any rate, it is my opinion now that we'll ultimately never ARRIVE anywhere, and as you have pointed out, that is perhaps the best thing, as ARRIVAL = DEATH. In my case, discontinuing the journey -- be it all those years of not working on our relationship, or the many months we fought during the divorce -- meant the death of my marriage. However, is what's on the other side worth that death? Perhaps. I think Galahad would say so. By now I certainly do.

And by the by, I love it when my students figure that out. I discuss the finding of the Grail and Galahad's immediate ascension into heaven, and ultimately someone says, "So... he died." "YUP!" And we go on. Ta da! Thanks for playing.

annie said...

Dear Ginger, thank you for helping me place my own personally self-diagnosed syndrome, the fishbowl syndrome, in the context of literature. I've had a lot of increasingly big fishbowls in my life--I seem to be like a goldfish and grow just to its size limit. When I sense I'm plateau-ing I become just restless enough to jump the bowl. I wonder if and when I could ever outgrow NYC--and if there could ever be a fishbowl bigger, if I did? I wonder if depending on the size of the fishbowl for my growth is a character weakness--as if I could grow infinitely big, like Plato Big, in a community the size of a proper Greek city state (30k, right?). Finally, I somewhat hopeful that I've passed this neurosis on to my children, because G-d forbid they ever be content to let some grass grow under their feet.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quest

So you've got your basics:

King Arthur searches for the holy grail. Er. He sends his knights to search for the grail. Galahad the pious finds it, depending on the version you read, and immediately is taken to heaven. Camelot, unfortunately, is already poisioned by the sinful nature of (wo)man and the ideal kingdom is set to fall, depite the victorious (for Galahad, we assume) quest.

Dante goes on a perilous quest through hell (literally!) in search of a new path, one that leads away from the "dark wood of error." Fortunately for Dante, he is able to ascend out of Inferno into Purgatorio, and then he vacations in Paradiso, lucky man.

Tolkien wrote about the overlooked (wink), undervalued hobbit whose quest is to destroy that which will bring ultimate destruction to the earth. He's successful in his quest, but is unable to endure this mortal coil, thus he sails to the Undying Lands in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

I could go on, for there are a billion, trillion (give or take) examples. Suffice it to say that research proves a recurring progression:

Desire --> Quest -->Success for the "worthy" --> immediate ascension into heaven, commonly known to most people as death. Immediate death. Unable to enjoy the success of the quest on this earth because you are dead.. which, on one hand, is good because you're in paradise. I guess. Oh, and there's the perk of minstrels writing songs about your battles, astronomers assigning you a permanent constellation, and poets writing you into legend, etc. But really, you could care less because you are, as I've mentioned before, dead.

So, why the hell are we - the common folk - always questing?

My life has been a series of little "questia minima" in the form of agenda items with tick boxes next to them.

college
husband
career
house
baby

And if life continues as is, the following:
retirement
grandkids
winnebago

Or something like that.

That's not enough for me. I am ready for a "Questius Maximus".

I understand, first of all, that I'm not "worthy" - neither pure, nor strong, nor (very) focused - and that negates the optimal climax and paradisic conclusion for me. There are no Ginger constellations in my future. I'm Ok with that. I also understand that quests can be life changing and can lead to disappointment, as do most earthy desires. But I would like to veer off course, away from the agenda and those little tick boxes that we love to check.

Isn't a journey worth anything?

"The play's the thing..."

This post was inspired by the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a small and feisty(!) global community. We write weekly on a common topic (Quest, this week) and post responses - all of us together, simultaneously, from all over the world. (Lovely!) Please visit Anu, Ashok, Conrad, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria and Ramana for other wonderful posts.

9 comments:

Rummuser said...

Ginger, the journey is everything. Full stop, period.

Grannymar said...

Now and the journey are what it is all about. Why waste time on what might never be?

Maria said...

Must agree that the journey is everything and living in the moment is well-worth it. But Gee, I love the idea of a Winnebago in your future at retirement time. Maybe because Rving in our Pulse is so much fun. Come to think of it, why wait. . . if you can afford it, do it now on week-ends.

Conrad said...

Yes, unless you want to be a fictional character I think the journey as experienced is it. But ... journey with passion! No one can deny you that. You get all the joy of the fictional quest without all the mess of immediately being snuffed.

I like the advice to one of Hesse's characters: learn to appreciate the symphony on an AM Radio.

Judy Harper said...

Me, I like my tick boxes, it keeps me focused. That's the way to see where I'm going. It seems as though every time I do something spontaneous, I really mess up! Thanks for choosing this subject to write about. Because while life is a journey, the pursuit is what makes it interesting!

K a b l o o e y said...

Interesting. I suck at checking off boxes. (I balk at boxes. Toe the box, back up, turn around. Get coffee. Come back. Get absorbed in something and forget box. Worry about if it's the "right" box... you get the idea.) But I'm on a self-described quest this year, and mine's 100% about the journey. I think so, anyway, but it's definitely not about the heareafter because...um... I don't believe in it. Interesting, as always; thanks.

Magpie 11 said...

I hate tick boxes... smack too much of government interference for me.

However I loved the tongue in cheek approach to the topic.... I just couldn't find an approach of that ilk for my post.

Let's all face it..it ends in death... I wonder what it is like to be really naughty? Maybe....

Lisa (the girls' moma) said...

"Risk" is how I described it, so many months of posts ago, and you use the word "quest" -- either way, I knew once that I was meant for something. I just didn't know what. I wonder who's laughing now at the journey I'm currently on, which of the ones Dante and Virgil got to see in His own element.

At any rate, it is my opinion now that we'll ultimately never ARRIVE anywhere, and as you have pointed out, that is perhaps the best thing, as ARRIVAL = DEATH. In my case, discontinuing the journey -- be it all those years of not working on our relationship, or the many months we fought during the divorce -- meant the death of my marriage. However, is what's on the other side worth that death? Perhaps. I think Galahad would say so. By now I certainly do.

And by the by, I love it when my students figure that out. I discuss the finding of the Grail and Galahad's immediate ascension into heaven, and ultimately someone says, "So... he died." "YUP!" And we go on. Ta da! Thanks for playing.

annie said...

Dear Ginger, thank you for helping me place my own personally self-diagnosed syndrome, the fishbowl syndrome, in the context of literature. I've had a lot of increasingly big fishbowls in my life--I seem to be like a goldfish and grow just to its size limit. When I sense I'm plateau-ing I become just restless enough to jump the bowl. I wonder if and when I could ever outgrow NYC--and if there could ever be a fishbowl bigger, if I did? I wonder if depending on the size of the fishbowl for my growth is a character weakness--as if I could grow infinitely big, like Plato Big, in a community the size of a proper Greek city state (30k, right?). Finally, I somewhat hopeful that I've passed this neurosis on to my children, because G-d forbid they ever be content to let some grass grow under their feet.