As might have been mentioned a couple times (or ad nauseam perhaps), I love books, stories, lyrics, anything that takes me on a journey. I’ve been reading quite a bit lately and loving every minute of it. My To Be Read pile fills up a shelf and I keep on buying more (in case those books get lonely, of course). Kelley Armstrong (The Summoning and The Awakening) is responsible for some recent reading glee, and I’ve got my eye on (and a coupon at the ready for) Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender (who also has a fun blog).
All the books I love include an epic quest, ranging from snagging that One Ring and destroying it and Big Bad Sauron in the process (while consuming Elvish waybread naturally) to overcoming all the angst and hardship of the teen years in order to risk falling in love. Epic quests don’t require dragons or fantasy dark dimensions; they live within a story any time a character pushes for something necessary to their authentic self.
So, this got me thinking (as the events in Haiti have) about what epic quests would fulfill my authentic self. Certainly, seizing time to write and edit stories counts, as does working as hard as I can in my professional life to always do my best. My life has included some epic quests: rock climbing, foreign travel, teaching middle school, and most recently open-water swimming. But since the Haiti earthquake, my inner planning machine has been stewing, leaving a slightly muddled me to pick up the pieces. The question now is how to discover a new epic quest, one that links to the needs of my authentic self (not exactly an exact science). There are plenty of opportunities out there to make the first steps on this journey, and I’m considering them carefully, knowing that once the right one pipes up, I’ll know. In the mean time, I feel a bit like a portion of my brain is attending to other matters (not exactly a new thing, since my fictional writing worlds are at play in my mind most of the time). I’ll keep you posted on what journeys I find.
In a little epic-story-related news, I have to mention something I think is spectacular. NASA, responsible for some pretty epic quests in the past, has carried out an exceptional mission to Mars. And though the Mars rover Spirit is now stuck in the sand, the amazing craftsmanship of the rover has allowed data to continue to be captured and transmitted back to Earth. Spirit was built to survive for just 90 days after landing on Mars... in January 2004... yep, still going (well, not going anywhere now, but still functioning). What a marvelous show for NASA! They do know how to excite the imagination.
And that brings up a powerful point about epic quests, not just in fiction, but in real life. Volunteering with the homeless is an epic quest. Sitting through baseball games all day on a Saturday so that your kid knows how much you care is an epic quest. Taking the time to make a meaningful moment with a spouse is an epic quest. It really doesn’t take a trip to Mars, just the intention to deliberately live each moment and continue the forward motion of your life.
Quote for the Day from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
"Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."