The Great Adventure

What is the Purpose of your Journey?

I continue to immerse myself in intensive Jujutsu training. As I train my body, my sense of self becomes clearer.

As a priest, I consider spirituality a noble pursuit. But one of the drawbacks of spirituality is that it’s ephemeral. It is an invisible, internal thing. It can be can be hard to know whether you are having a profound breakthrough, or just comforting yourself, or even imagining things. Like a mist, it’s hard to grab hold.

Martial arts are much more tangible. Every day you know if you made progress, because you can see the difference. You can feel how much easier it is to execute a technique, or how much more aware you are. The changes in your body and behavior are self-evident. Like meditation, it sets a physical standard for a profoundly spiritual achievement.

This is why I listen to my teacher’s opinion not only on matters of physical training, but on matters of the spirit. Thus, I paid close attention as he commented on the upcoming adventure:

“What you’re doing is hard. It’s going to take a lot of effort to walk to Brazil. It would be a shame if you expended all that effort for no reason.”

I wanted to object. I have a reason! To meet the gods! It’s a spiritual quest! But wait…. remember that stuff about spirituality being misty?

Meeting the gods (or failing) is my personal reason for going. It’s hard to define and hard to describe, an act of self-discovery. At best, people understand why it’s important to me—but it doesn’t feed hungry children or silence the cannons of war.

My teacher reminded me that my journey must serve a greater purpose. I’ve been considering this for a while. It raises questions:

  • What kind of cause could I support with a long walk through Latin America?
  • Should I use my walk to fundraise, and if so, how?
  • Besides fundraising, is there some better way to leverage it—perhaps developing educational materials?
  • Should I create a nonprofit of my own, or work with an existing one?

The nonprofit management part of my brain asks these questions, and they are important questions. Another part of me asks a deeper question:

Can I even decide on a purpose for the journey before I go?

I know what I hope to contribute to humanity in my short life. I want to develop a new way for people to engage their spirituality, by living the Heroic Life. I want to inspire people to take action and stand up for those who need it. And I want to encourage people, especially young people, to use travel as a way to find their purpose in life and live passionately. But how can I best use this trip to make these things happen?

I trust your opinions, fellow rogues. I’d like to ask you to throw your ideas in the ring. What do you think of the questions above?


34 thoughts on “What is the Purpose of your Journey?

  1. Seeker from Aus says:

    I’ve recently moved to Japan, specifically Hiroshima, on exchange with my university and there are few things that happened in the course of my preparations that I reckon might be of… consideration for you.

    First on the note of an intangible goal. My exchange is based solely around language; all my subjects (save for one I was given, rather than one I chose) are to do with facets of the Japanese language, complex letters, grammar, expression, listening, reading and writing. Learning a language is just as intangible as walking all of Brazil to find gods, but at the same time has many of the hall marks of improvement that martial arts has. Like so very many things, it is very hard to have intangible advancement/improvement/etc, without some kind of tangible expression of the intangible: I came to Hiroshima to learn and become skilled at Japanese language; I will see the progression towards that goal through the classes that I undertake. I would suggest that you are missing, either wholly or in part, the tangible expression of your undertaking. Ask yourself: Why Brazil? What makes you think that you will find the gods there, as opposed to somewhere else? Is there something like Spanish or indeed Ju Jitsu that can carry you across the country as you search for the gods?

    Secondly, as you have aid in the past, you follow the path of the Hero. In my experience (and I in no way put forward that I am a Hero in the complete sense of the word/expression; merely someone in whom a number of people have seen their own dreams etc fulfilled through and a person not afraid to do the right thing), people, the world, universe and everything have a way of rewarding or facilitating undertakings such as yours (and to a lesser extent, mine) in ways that we never see coming. For example; I am sharing an apartment with a student at the University I am exchanging with, for free (usually it is 45,000 ¥/month). That only happened because I met him and was confident enough in my then slender interpreting skills to help him with something at MY university – A minor act of heroism on behalf of someone who couldn’t help themselves was repaid in turn.

    Thats my two cents, as the expression goes, with jus tone last thing to think about. For the most part, the heroic path is no different to the path of a good person; just with more courage and old style warrior spirit.

    S from A, in Hiroshima.

    • Hey there Seeker. Thank you for taking the time to comment. You’ve given me several good things to think about.

      One question I can answer off the bat: Why do I think I’ll find the gods in Brazil? I don’t. It has nothing to do with Brazil, and everything to do with the act of traveling a long distance slowly. I could go to Alaska, the Pyrenees or Hiroshima seeking the gods – but as it happens, South America is the place that catches my passion.

  2. Your Sensei is wise… And I guess that, with your Heroic Life concept, you have everything to start your own nonprofit organization, and turning your daily notes and thoughts into a book (or books) that would inspire young guys to chase their dreams. It would be a start, I think.


  3. I think the journey is going to inspire others. I could remove “I think” from that sentence.

    As for feeding the hungry or stopping war, my impression is that you will discover a cause while you’re walking. It may be that you encounter something, it may be that you internally settle upon something.

    I thought the story of the woman walking across America with no blog or Twitter account changed my opinion on having a cause for the trip itself. Go on your personal journey and bring back the golden fleece to change the world.

    • Hi Matt! Yes, the fact that she wasn’t blogging or tweeting caught my attention too. Though when asked her reason for walking, she said it came down to just wanting to walk. In my case, wanting to help people is part of the reason itself. So far, I’ve considered a public presence a necessary part of doing that… Though I’m willing to be challenged on that idea if someone thinks otherwise.

  4. I keep thinking: this journey will change you, and it’s the changed you that you offer back to the world. That can only happen through and as a result of the journey. When you get to the point, I think it will be much clearer what it is you are offering, to whom, and how.

  5. I think you’re likely to find causes along the way to work for, or to meet people with causes that you can help out. You’re good at fundraising or publicity – the causes don’t have to be your own.

    • True. One thing I wonder about: if I go from place to place offering to help out with local causes, that could easily mean a 2 – 12 month time commitment in each town or region I visit. Especially doing fundraising or publicity work, which often span a campaign.

      Is the idea of joining local causes in series, at odds with the idea of continuously walking?

      • Jag says:

        Maybe joining a local cause isn’t it, sometimes just telling others about what causes you find is what’s needed.

        When you tell the story of your journey, the storys of those you meet and interact with become woven into it to create something greater than those stories each on it’s own. Let that story be your cause, seek them out, bring them together and give them to the world.

        • Jag says:

          If not “the” purpose, it may be “a” purpose. Unlike many people might think, or try to force things to be, there is more than one purpose to most things. I may presume too much, but I feel that something like this should be one purpose of your quest, and quest it is. What use is such a quest without the story of it?

          Sings the Bard that travels the land
          of the storys collected along the way
          but not only the songs he hears as he goes
          but also the tales of his traveling days.

          Jaguar of Arkansas.

  6. McB The Wrathful says:

    So… You know how when you do the trance meditation techniques? You go on a journey in your meditation to speak with your deity and you go with a purpose. You have a specific question or subject you want to find out about. You don’t just go hoping to catch a cuppa tea with your favorite deity and let it be essentially pointless. Like talking about the weather, but nothing with a real message. That’d be a waste of their time, and yours. Or like calling IT support desk without any issues and trying to start a conversation about the Sunday game.
    So I don’t think you necessarily have to turn it into a global purpose. You don’t have to walk to raise money for other people or garner international attention. Unless that’s what you’re after. If you have your question in mind, then that’s all the motivation you need. But if you don’t have a question, then what are you at?
    You’ve already met the gods. You’ve already got a very good relationship with them, IMO. So this, to me, seems to be more about self-discovery than it is about meeting the gods. You could very well put the “meet the gods” thing to the side and let the self discovery thing take it’s rightful place at the forefront of your goal setting.
    So then, maybe, if this is more about self-discovery and not so much about meeting the gods, then go with a question that’s aimed at yourself, and not aimed at the gods.
    What do you want out of this? What do you hope to achieve? What is lacking in your life?
    It vaguely reminds me of some talk-show hostesses I saw on television discussing the movie “Eat Pray Love.” One lady said, “I didn’t have to travel to three different continents to find contentment.” She thought most of the movie was very pretty scenery with a relatively shallow plot. If you watch the movie, you might get the impression that Julia Roberts’ character moves from continent to continent not really addressing her issues at all. The only way she addresses her issues is when her boyfriend confronts her about them and makes her think about them. She nearly takes off on him and backs out on commitment. It’s supposed to be a movie about self-discovery, but really at the end of the day all it does is make me hungry and watch the clock.
    Anyway, it’s more of a “meh” movie in my opinion. But maybe you’d be interested in checking it out sometime if you haven’t already seen it.
    So… maybe figure out what it is that you’re afraid of. What it is you are discontented with. When I wanted to move to another country, it was because I was unhappy with my marriage and my creative outlets. I didn’t recognize it at the time. But then once I got divorced and found new creative outlets and people that fulfilled my needs much better, I found I wasn’t so discontented anymore…
    I also made some very good friends in Europe.

    • That’s actually a really insightful reply, Kassy. Thank you for taking the time to write it!

      I think you and I got the travel bug for different reasons. I gave a lot of thought to your words, and realized I’m actually very happy with my life. I have been for several years now, increasingly so. There’s nothing I feel the need to escape or get away from, rather, I’ve always felt drawn to travel and adventure. That desire goes back as long as I can remember.

      Is the trip more about self-discover than meeting the gods? That’s a really interesting question. I’m not sure I know the answer. But now you have my mind racing….

  7. gracemm1 says:

    Drew, For many years, I had the same question – “What is my purpose through this Journey of Life?”

    For years, I dreamed of writing the Great American Novel, or creating the next “Fad” to make my millions.

    Then, one day someone said to me, “Thank you for bringing me and “so and so” together – it changed my life”. Then, more and more, I began to hear from my circle of friends that it was because of ME introducing them that their lives took a turn for the better!

    Oh, I still want to write that Great American Novel, but now am more content with the “day to day” of my life. Knowing that other lives are enriched and expanded – all because I introduced them!

    Guess you could call me “the Witch that stirs the pot”!

  8. As I’ve mentioned before, immigration could be a cause for you. The idea of a White American guy making the same journey as so many Spanish-speaking immigrants to this country, but in the opposite direction, could unleash some powerful issues. You might meet people making that journey north along the way, for example. You might get to witness first hand why they do it, what problems they face, and whether our media is even remotely capturing the reality of their situation. You might struggle with the question of whether a White guy from a decent economic background could ever understand their situation. And you might raise money or awareness for the DREAM Act, which seeks a route to citizenship for undocumented immigrants through university education or military service (if your experiences uncover support for that act).

    In addition, closer to the spiritual side of your quest, you might discover how travel and hardship change these immigrants, and how heroism may emerge through their journeys.

    • I’m definitely considering that cause B.T. I hadn’t heard of the DREAM Act so I started doing some reading on it. It seems like the Latino community in the US has been overall supportive of it, which is a good sign to me.

  9. Drew, a long time ago, in the midst of what I think of as a Conversation with Divinity I was told the following: “Karsa, on the Edge of the Delpon Sea, where those who Seek the Answers, must First the Questions Seek.”

    I have since come to understand about those particular ‘places’, and what they mean to me (and some other folks), but the point, more than the Place maybe, is that you have to find the Questions first. I think this is what your Journey is about.

    Many Blessings to you!

    • Interesting Jade. Thank you for this reply. A question though – even if the personal side of my journey is about finding what questions to ask, why not still use it to fundraise for a cause? Can’t it still be used as a vehicle for change?

  10. When you create purpose, it clouds the organics of life. I’ve learned this the hard way through my own journey in Project Conversion ( I set out for one thing, but because I gradually allowed the form to grow organically, a entirely new paradigm took hold. There is no script to life, which is why truth is often stranger than fiction, and far more glorious. Don’t think too hard about this Drew. How can you see ahead of the journey when the journey itself will shift your perspective? Humans have a thing about implanting their fancies on a reality that isn’t real yet (the future). That’s why when someone asks me “what are your plans for tomorrow?” I always answer, “To wake up. The rest is gravy.”

    When I stayed with Theravadan Buddhist monks for a weekend, the abbot there taught me about meditation with walking. Each step is its own moment, its own universe, its own meditation. Embrace the step, then let it go.

    The “gods” or “plans” are like grabbing water, and you know what happens there.

    Peace to you, and blessing on your journey.

  11. kilmrnock says:

    my friend , as much as i have misgivings about thier use and misuse , a firearm would be useful on such a journey for self defence only. bad people you will possibly meet along the way will suredly be armed. that along with whatever other skilles you can muster. and just for the record , a person can meet thier gods w/o traveling . our ancestors for the most part never traveled more than 20 miles from home , in thier entire lifetime.i personaly had a rather nasty event in my life recently, i had a heart attack while i surgery i called out to , and was comforted by my gods.i had a stent put in , to clear a blocked artery, in this type of sergury , you are not put under , its done under local anestesia.while in the throws of a heart attack my gods came to and comforted me . i was awake thru the entire procedure. and i have always felt thier presence during ritual. but if this is the journey that you personaly need , good luck , my friend Kilm

    • Hi Kilm, first off let me say how sorry I am to hear about your heart attack. And also how happy I am that you made it through and had such a wonderful experience.

      I’ve had many experiences of seeing the gods the way you describe. However, rationally I have no idea whether those are real beings or if they are part of my psychology. I think this journey will help me to better understand what the gods are and, if they exist, to find a way to meet them in person.

      I disagree about our ancestors. For the vast bulk of human (and hominid) history we have been hunter-gatherers who ranged over hundreds or thousands of miles each year. Traveling and exploring is in our blood. Only in the past few thousand years (up to 6,000 in the Middle East) have people started farms and settled down. Hand in hand with the advent of the settled life came the advent of religions that are more about rules and rituals than direct experience.

      There is a connection there. When people can travel freely, they engage their entire brain and feel spiritually fulfilled. When people are settled in one place, they long for something they cannot have and feel unfulfilled.

  12. My first reaction to your post is to say “Please please, pick my cause! Our little group could use the help and the publicity,” but that would be terribly selfish of me.

    That being said, it made me think of why I am so invested in the Zulu Orphan Alliance and why I am going to South Africa to help build a shelter for children I have never met. I am certain that you have a similar story and could pull from your own experiences to find a cause to honor with your adventure. For me, it started when my partner’s cousin died way too young from Pancreatic cancer. It hit me hard and made me really think about what I have done with my life. Through that tragedy, we reconnected with an old friend who was doing things that most people couldn’t imagine – she is, as far as I know, one of the only Americans to successfully adopt a Zulu child. But after she did that, she moved to South Africa to help as many children as she could. She is my inspiration. The second aspect to our decision to do this project was to use what we had learned over the last several years building our own sustainable house. If we could do something that awesome for ourselves, we could certainly do it for other people – people who need it. I am guessing it probably won’t stop with the Zulu Orphan Alliance, either. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself – one project at a time.

    So, I know your quest is about meeting the Gods. I think there are things you already know and that you already do that could be an inspiration to others as well as to the Gods. Draw deep and honor that and they may be happy to introduce themselves to you.

    • Thank you so much Laura. the Zulu Orphan Alliance is the kind of cause that fills me with hope and happiness, That said, since it is a different continent than the one I’m walking it would be hard to connect the cause with the walk. I am curious about similar causes in Latin America though – do you know of any?

      Rua’s suggestion, Survival International (tribal peoples’ right) is the one that I feel most strongly about right now.

  13. “I know what I hope to contribute to humanity in my short life. I want to develop a new way for people to engage their spirituality, by living the Heroic Life. I want to inspire people to take action and stand up for those who need it. And I want to encourage people, especially young people, to use travel as a way to find their purpose in life and live passionately. But how can I best use this trip to make these things happen?”

    If you can repeat the above every day, while you’re on the trip, I’d say you’d be well on your way (both literally + figuratively.) When I try to figure out the specific ‘purpose’ for a project, I often get hung up in logistics. And those can carry you far away from a genuine purpose, something I’ve experienced often in my own work. These days, my approach is shifting more towards asking myself ‘how did I get here? what inspired ME to make the leap? what longing do I want to tap into and get others to feel as well?’ Then I hold my answers close as I dive into the fray, and experiment to see what happens. Because you know as well as I- there ain’t no creative precedent for projects like walking across the country to meet the gods. Whatever happens- you’re setting it.

    Anyway, you know I heart these questions, Drew. And that you asked what we thought of the questions..

    • Tessa, I’ve turned your words over in my mind quite a bit these last few days. Thank you so much for what you said. And for reading. And for reminding me of who I am.

  14. Pingback: The Great and Mighty Vagabonds of Our Time « Rogue Priest

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