The Happiness of Pursuit

The following post was sponsored by Random House. 
When the book, The Happiness of Pursuit arrived on my door step, a few weeks back, I immediately thought of Joseph Campbell. (And, yes. I write about him often. But I look to him as the guru of story and find much of his work inspiring, thought provoking and extremely empowering.) If you aren't familiar with Campbell's work, he was a renowned mythologist who believed that the story was everything—the retelling, the studying, the writing, the seeking, the pursuit of the retelling and the studying and the seeking—that every man, woman and child is born a quest-seeker, that myths are what sustain us, stories acting as our societal and ethical guides.

And, in The Happiness of Pursuit, Chris Guillebeau pulls from Campbell's "hero's journey" and takes us on a quest to seek out fellow questers and highlight their stories, their goals, journeys and processes. (He does this on his blog as well and recently featured the amazing Robyn Devine of 10,000 Hats who IS AWESOME and lovely and YES.)

Guillebeau believes that, for some, it is the pursuit itself, not the end goal, that sustains us. And so, we all owe it to ourselves to seek, to pursue, to build our own little boats and sail across rivers and lakes, oceans and seas, not to get somewhere but to EXIST in the process of the getting.
This speaks to me as someone who desires to do much but feels uncomfortable about list-making and drawing out goals. I prefer not to mark the thing off the list but to experience the thing that isnt listed. And then, perhaps, to experience it again and again and again if that is the thing that I love, enjoy, feel challenged by  I am someone who enjoys "the during" but struggles much with the afterward. After completing one novel and then another, I was as depressed as Id ever been. After completing one pilot and then another I felt just as sad. (Nothing happened with any of these projects, by the way, and I have spent the last ten years working on a new one that may take years more to see complete.)

I am happy not when I finish a task but when I'm existing within the strand of moments... when I'm pursuing a project or a post or an adventure with my family.

And when it's over? I feel down, man. Depressed. Sometimes even angry. I am at my worst after a trip or a finished project, a last day  After every major project I have felt the same way. After every minor project, too—even after something as simple as a blog post. As soon as I click the publish button I feel like I've just stepped off the page and have nowhere to stand... and so I must jump back into another one. QUICK! FIND A NEW QUEST! FIND A NEW IDEA! A NEW STORY! This is something I am working on, of course. I am terrible with endings and goodbyes and knowing when to stop. I ramble and turn circles and go back into drafts and kill off characters… I fiddle, I dismantle, I abandon…

In one of the last chapters of  The Happiness of Pursuit, Guillebeau writes of the story of Miranda Gibson, who lived in a tree for more than a year. And on her blog, after coming down and rejoining the world, she wrote:
And it is overwhelming, regardless of whether you've spent a year in a tree or as a parent, a wife, a student, a teenager... There's so much to say and think, so many stories to tell and all of the words are swishing around in our shoes and how do we get started? How do we start telling the stories we want to tell? 

Where to even begin, right? 

Campbell said, The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” 

And I think of that often, within the context of this space. So many voices. So many points of view. All valid. All important. All worth sharing. All needing to start somewhere... 

Today I have told you the story of my feet touching the ground…”

Be who you are. 

Write your story. 

Live your story. 

Pursue, pursue, pursue... 
After all, there is no greater story than the one its author feels compelled to tell Everything that is deeply felt is significant. All journeys matter. Because it isnt about pursuing happiness but, as Guillebeaus title so brilliantly articulates, finding happiness within the pursuit.

That is what I love so much about blogging and creating in this space. There are no real endings. No right answers. No rules. Every day you get a new pass at a new subject, a new draft that is imperfect and, perhaps, (sometimes) unacceptable to its audience. And that's all good, man. Because perfection was never the point. 

We do not read to get the last page, or the last line or the last word... we read to experience the meat, to agree, to disagree, to highlight and strikethrough and keep turning... And blogs, at their core, are just diaries with endless pages, exposed and vulnerable for the sake of hinting at the okayness of imperfection.

That's why, fourteen years later, I still do this. I believe that the struggle is far more interesting than the resolution - that the flaws are what make stories compelling and adventures worth their weight, moment after moment, pursuit after pursuit, to be continued, amen. What happens in the end, when the moment has passed, is not the happy place. This? RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW is. 
For more on The Happiness of Pursuit, check out Chris Guillebeau's website, here. You can also follow him on facebook, twitter and instagram. And big thanks to Random House for sponsoring this post.  
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*From wild to child* | 1:50 AM

now im 26 and i think i must have been 20 when i started to read your bog. you have been My guide for many things. and your words have been balsam for my Soul. Also u have been an english teacher since im from europe germany and many things i had to translate back than :D. im a from wild to child as well. i Used to be a stripper now im Mama of two Kids, photographeur and woman of my spain tattooartist ROCK AND ROLL. i Worte u before here but many years ago....i dont think. u realized. u happen to always find words for the situations when i needed to hear somebody...u are my charles bukowski and carrie bradshaw. i wanted to say thank you for everything Schöne Frau. love, Anja Dominique