What Are We Questing For?

December snuck up on me this year, leaving me spinning. What happened to November, to October, to June? I have lost time. Eight months at least. But here it is Quest-ing time again–a chance to begin again (in a golden land of opportunity and adventure).

But unlike that promise of a better life on some off-world colony, in this journey we won’t be given a handy potion to help us sleep through the trip. We’re going to have to get our hands dirty–to dig, to climb, to build and row our own lifeboats, to sleep where there is no shelter despite the falling snow.

Last year’s Quest was full of optimism and plans, and big, bold ideas for 2015, but the year hasn’t quite worked out that way. Life got in the way. Health got in the way. Money (or more precisely, lack thereof) got in the way. My own head got in the way. Then along came Quest 2016 and it seemed the perfect way to get back on track. Back to the big ideas I’d abandoned this year. And I have to say, being re-immersed in the embrace of this amazing group is invigorating. And I knew the answer to Prompt 1 as soon as I read it (at least the general idea of it).

Tell Yourself

Visionary: Susan Piver

Your Quest2016 Prompt today:

What I most need to tell myself about 2016 is…

What do I most need to tell myself in 2016? That I don’t have to put all this pressure on myself to know what exactly I am trying to build or where exactly I am trying to get to. That it’s okay to gather supplies, hone skills, let ideas percolate before I fly into action. Because I have been paralyzing myself trying to force the unformed to match my will, instead of allowing it to grow organically and reveal its true shape. And I know from experience that my best work has arisen at its own insistence and not at mine, and that somewhere at the center of the Venn diagram that maps the things that matter most to me there is alchemy afoot. Alchemy that has its own agenda. My job will be to give it what it needs. To feed this glorious, becoming beast instead of trying to cage it. ‪#‎TellYourself‬

And then came Prompt 2…

What’s Knocking

Visionary: Jonathan Fields

Your Quest2016 Prompt today:

You wake up to discover a knock at your door. A wealthy uncle you barely knew has passed and left you a fortune. It’s more than enough to live out your days in glorious splendor, but there is a condition. To be eligible to collect, you must commit your full-time working energies to the pursuit of an answer to a single question of your choosing for the next 12 months.

You are welcome to continue that pursuit after the year ends, for years or decades if it warrants, but you must remain fully focused on seeking the answer until the last minute of the 365th day. A minute shorter, the entire inheritance goes to your annoying and equally long lost cousin, Philly.

What is your question?

Because this prompt was posted sometime in the wee hours Eastern Daylight Time and I am a bit of an insomniac, I read it last night before I went to bed, so when I woke up, I was ready to dive in. Especially since I had already written a question on a similar topic (but without the money trope) for another group I belong to. That question asked:

What might happen if I approached art as a practice and let my true work arise instead of trying to force or control it?

Because my best work has always been a direct response to events in the lives of the people I care about, I figured responding to events in the world shouldn’t be any harder.

So I wrote some more, made lists of what matters to me and what types of expression appeal to me, and churned it all around until I came up with several versions of a related question that mentioned things like “finding the art within me,” and “inspiring a more beautiful and connected life and world,” and “unique, meaningful, and impactful art,” and then I had to go to work so I left it with the intention to come home, polish it up, and post it and that would be that so bring on Prompt 3!

Except that’s not what happened. Because it wasn’t right. It was missing the most important ingredient: the people I care about.

That’s the funny thing about dropping out of your life for a year–when you finally decide to crawl out of the hole you’ve been hibernating in, it might not still be there. Or it might, but seeing it with fresh eyes, you may find that it wasn’t really what you thought.

So I can sit here typing, telling you about my grand dreams and how this is the year I will finally get my act together and write that book, or publish that poetry collection, or make those quilts, but it wouldn’t be honest. Because the truth is, at this point, there are very few things I know are true, but one of them is:

If I had only one year left to live I wouldn’t spend it sitting alone in my room writing or sewing or worrying about how to change the world. I would spend every moment I could being with the people I love (ideally somewhere exotic and breathtakingly beautiful)..

So, where does that leave my question?

How can I reshape my life to better connect with the people who are most important to me?


Because without them, at least for me, the “work” doesn’t mean much.