Monday, June 8, 2015

The Happiness of Pursuit: Review & Reflection

I've gotten away, of late, from reviewing the books I've been reading. I have a considerable back-log of reviews waiting to be posted, but I wanted to get this one up first since I have a feeling that finishing this book is a line in the sand of what life looks like moving forward.

The book in question is Chris Guillebeau's The Happiness of Pursuit, the second of Chris' books I've read since returning home from Jamaica clear that my sleepy hometown isn't going to be enough anymore. In The Happiness of Pursuit (THoP) Chris hangs a framework of lessons from his own quest (to visit all 193 recognized nations of the world by the age of 35) and the quests of many others. Within that framework Chris inserts questions and lessons that have you pay attention to life for what your (my) own quest might be.

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THoP is a relatively quick read that I purposely slowed down. I wanted each lesson to sink in. I wanted to really learn from Chris, from the woman who created a meal from every country in the world, from the man who refused mechanical transportation for 22 years, from the other creators and explorers. What about what they did called to me? What in their stories was inspiring? What might my version of that look like?  

Chris is a very readable writer - intelligent, self-deprecating, pleasantly insouciant, and very very relatable. He often answered my questions just as they were forming, and he leaves plenty of room for people to create their own lives rather than imposing his ideas of life on his readers. 

As I read I was repeatedly reminded of something that I've often felt is a weakness of mine - not having one singular passion that pulls me forward. I like variety. I am interested in many things. And the idea of hitching my chariot to one questing star feels limiting rather than inspiring. As I read THoP I paid extra attention - what in life holds my attention? Where and when do I feel myself getting excited about an undertaking? What activities make time disappear? What circumstances outrage me? The answers are a mixed bag. 

Obviously, travel is and will continue to be a theme for me. But as I pondered the various forms a quest can take, travel seemed like - pardon the pun - the vehicle, not the focus. I'm going to travel anyway, but what can that travel be about? What happens in the life I have at homebase? Where do my sons, my parents, my health fit in in a life focused on travel? 

And then, I came across this blog post on  Facebook: Don't make a bucket list; make a list of 100 dreams. I was on my iPhone, and I don't enjoy reading articles on that screen so I simply saved it and moved on. I had pondered the headline the last few days - a list of 100 dreams. I detest the concept behind bucket lists, but a list of dreams inspires me. In his books Chris calls these kinds of lists "Life Lists" and while that's an improvement, it's really the dream list idea that moves me. So imagine my surprise when I finally went back to see the article I'd saved and it links to Chris' website. Oh, serendipity, you charmer. Of course the ultimate link is not Chris' blog but this sample list.

Which is all just to say: 

  • read any and all of Chris Guillebeau's books. They are accessible and inspiring and there's something in there for everyone (review of The Art of Non-Conformity coming soon). 
  • I found my quest not in the book itself, though reading the book plowed the earth so that finding the list of 100 could land in fertile soil - this week I'm working on my creating my list of 100, and then I'll begin crossing things OFF my list of 100. A quest of plenty - what fun! 

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