When I tell people I’m walking from the US to Brazil, the very first question they ask is “why?” And when I first made the announcement, I thought I was ready with an answer: to meet the gods. It might not surprise you to find out that answer doesn’t always satisfy.
But when pressed for details, I have a hard time explaining much more than that.
The great thing about meeting the gods is that it’s a grand, vague, nigh-impossible goal. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like or if it can even be done. This is the perfect object for a journey meant to emulate the mythical heroes: a quest so big, it may just be unachievable, so the act of questing itself better be damn worthwhile.
This same quality is what makes it so hard to plan around—or relate to.
“Why are you walking all that way!?”
“To meet the gods.”
“What do you mean?”
Since it’s hard to explain, I’ve been bashful about it. I’m liable to say “It’s a spiritual quest” and leave it unanswered at all. Delving into it, especially with strangers, is not easy, so I just don’t.
But what’s heroic about that?
Not bloody much.
So I’ve been pushing myself to better define my quest. That especially means defining its purpose. A journey without a purpose is just wandering, and while that can be fun, it’s no basis for a philosophy that changes the world.
You’ve seen the beginnings of this inner struggle. I’ve resolved that I’m in no position to found a movement around this philosophy, at least not until I’ve mastered it myself. And I’ve come to understand I am a journeyman priest, with the journey deciding whether I reach true mastery of my art.
Therein lies the secret.
It’s not about choosing a cause, or following a to-do itinerary. It’s about seeking out great moments. I want to stand on windswept bluffs above the ocean, and see the birds below me. I want to sit in the shells of ruined temples, and imagine the voices of spirits. I want to bow before the shrines of new gods, in homes and houses, and introduce myself for the first time.
And if I take with me, every step of the way, my personal ideals (“the virtues”), that will change things. If I carry my insistence on standing up for those who need it, wandering becomes questing and these great moments become brief respite between action.
So what is the goal? To learn how to live the Heroic Life.