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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"The Happiness of Pursuit" ... released today!

"Finding the quest that will bring purpose to your life."

Wow! A quest that will bring purpose to my life? Sounds great, doesn't it? The sentence above is the by-line from author and travel guru Chris Guillebeau's latest book, released today: The Happiness of Pursuit
I received an advance copy of this book, for review purposes, under the sole obligation to provide my honest opinion. I was not required to give a favorable review.

Well, on the one hand, Happiness did not disappoint! In relating a series of interviews with "ordinary people completing extraordinary quests" (like the family of four who spent 33 months biking from Alaska to Argentina!), Guillebeau extrapolates a series of lessons to stimulate all readers to find and follow the dream of their lifetime. Interestingly, the stories themselves are so inspirational that the lessons were almost superfluous. (I mean, really, could dating get any more fun than 50 dates in 50 states?! Twelve years ago, I wouldn't have needed a list of lessons to make that happen; just the idea itself!)

And so there is that side of the book: the side that makes you want to just get out there and do something fun and adventurous. Off the couch. Into the big wide world. Prove something to yourself. Or to others. Or find yourself. Or shock your friends. Or simply break up the routine. Whatever you've been needing, or wanting, or dreaming of. That side of the book makes it a terribly enjoyable read, such that you might even be tempted to complete the book in one sitting (although, at 263 pages, it would, admittedly, be a very long sit).

And then there is the other side of the book: the side that saddens. Yes, Happiness follows along on some very exciting and inspiring quests. But in it, we also are shown the emptiness of the quest. We meet several seemingly misguided souls whose quests evolved out of avoidance of pain, or fear, or even immaturity. Dealing with a terminal diagnosis? Avoid the emotional trauma by distracting yourself with a quest, even to the extent that your children feel ignored. Carrying the teenage need to "fight the man" into adulthood? Don't explore the underlying reason for your pre-teen attitude; simply "show them all" by questing to live in silence, speaking to no one (including family!) for almost two decades. (Be assured that this particular quester himself admits to using his silence to "fight the man." -pg231- I did not arbitrarily designate that as the reason for his silence. Imagine refusing to speak to your loved ones for 17 years, just to assert your independence... not as a 12-year old boy, but as an adult man. Very sad.)

Nonetheless, despite the few stories that emoted a hopeless disengagement from reality, taking into consideration the entirety of The Happiness of Pursuit, I can't help but say I found it an engaging and entertaining read. Happiness has inspired me, not to create a quest to give my life purpose as its by-line suggested, but to make a few fun changes in my every day life. I am grateful for the several questers who have stirred me to explore and develop dreams that have been latent in recent years. And grateful to Guillebeau whose book brought those inspiring stories to me!

Now off to learn photography and improve my Spanish...

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