What is questing? What does a modern-day quest look (and feel) like? What is the point of a quest?
We have all read fairytales or myths or legends that incorporate some aspect of a quest. The ‘prince’ must go ‘searching’, cross a ‘bridge’ or a ‘river course’ or a ‘desert’ or some kind of barrier, fight a ‘dragon’ or a ‘monster’, climb a ‘tower’ or a ‘mountain’, save a ‘princess’ with a ‘kiss’ or a ‘sword’. In most cultures, there are stories of heroes doing great exploits or of goddess-like women overpowering evil. Many of these stories have similar themes and rely on archetypes and symbols that give deep meaning to the narrative. Some such stories concern an individual character taking a quest; usually this is done alone, or perhaps with one other companion.
But, is there such a thing as a modern-day quest? Or are we nowadays limited to computer games such as Mindcraft or fantasy fiction novels? I believe that atleast some of us (maybe all of us) at some time in our lives, find ourselves embroiled in an experience that can best be defined as ‘a quest’. It may involve the completion of an academic thesis, the endurance of overcoming a serious challenge to our health, pursuing a love partner to the ends of the earth. Equally well, it may be an entirely internal quest. Many modern-day quests seem to be about contending for our destiny; more about our inner geography and searching for answers to do with our identity and purpose. Who am I? Where do I belong? What is the purpose for my life? Although our questing as moderns may be less visible and require less physical stamina, the terrain is similar to what we read about in fairytales and ancient myths (or sacred writings). We require great stamina and perseverance and strength. Sometimes there are complex riddles to solve demanding intelligence and intuition. Sometimes we need to hide in a cave for a time. Other times, courage must charge forward wielding a sword.
During a quest, ordinary things take on heightened meaning for us. Nature appears to provide guidance and sometimes animals and plants seem to turn up to help steer our path. Our senses become more articulate and we may find we need to rely more on our dreams and imagination to help make decisions. People will wander in and out of our lives, and strangers are likely to hand us important ‘keys’ for our journey. While questing, irrational experiences, thoughts and feelings sit as equals beside our rational processes; both are required. Usually, we meet many new emotions and must make a place for each one. Although we may not feel in control, there is a sense that an unseen ‘author’ may be in control and that they will possibly help see this new narrative through to a good ending.
Carl Jung and John Sanford both understood the importance of archetypes and symbols for enabling individuals to reach their fullest potential. They dedicated their lives to helping others find meaning and healthy expressions of destiny and purpose. I believe that when we companion one another on a ‘quest’, we are enabling a miracle to occur; we are helping to birth the true identity of a human being, and, in doing so, we are strengthening the whole human race. Who knows what the world could look like if we were all living in (and out) our intended destinies?