Adventure, Dominican Republic, Favorites, The Great Adventure, Travel

Coming Home from the Caribbean with Doubts

Calle José Reyes

I caught Jessica’s eye. She nodded. She remembered the rule: never ask a Santo Domingo cab driver how much the ride will cost. Just wait till you get there and pay him what you think is right. It’s 170 pesos to go anywhere in the city, 150 if it’s very close. (The airport is more.)

This one was busy scribbling his personal cell number on someone else’s business card, telling Jess in Spanish that we should call him for all of our taxi needs. She added the card to four others in our collection. We’d been in the city all week, adding paved streets and outdoor cafes to our otherwise backpack-and-bus style trek across Hispaniola. We had escaped here for two months, to explore villages, beaches and our fledgling love while dodging deberes at home.

The problem was those two months were over.

We had spent the first half of our time mostly in one town, Las Galeras, doing our work in the mornings and taking afternoons in the sun. “Galera,” as you’d say in cotton-mouthed Dominican Spanish, was not exactly a cute little fishing hamlet, but it also wasn’t a thumping resort destination, and that’s why we stayed.

By our second month we were ready to strike out. We crossed the DR end to end (some of it more than once) and we went to Haiti. It’s hard to describe everything that’s wrong with Haiti, but I can say that getting up in the morning and leaving the house feels like being hit in the face with a plank. I told Jessica it was the roughest trip I’d ever taken.

“It’s not my roughest ever,” she said. “But I’m the oldest that I’ve ever been.”

Returning from Haiti instilled in me a new sense of adoration for the Spanish side of the island, home of a laid back people who add sugar even to fruit juice and lift their shirts over their bellies when they need to cool off. I had come to feel at home here, to feel happier than I do in most US towns, and now it was time to leave.

Papa Legba

Papa Legba at the Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Before I began my travels I had the idea that travel changes the mind. I pictured that traveling far and wide would, on its own, be some kind of transformative practice—that the adventures I’d find myself in would refine who I was. That’s essentially true, but I don’t think I could have imagined how it actually works.

Travel is not an adventure game where overcoming challenges develops new skills, or where mentors and allies appear to help you through the toughest times. Travel breaks you down. Most of the new skills you gain are developed during the many, many times you fail to overcome challenges, and more often you feel like you’re gambling your way forward with a skill set that’s far from sufficient. Mentors and allies can be found, but you generally have to create those relationships yourself—you have to take a lot of social risks.

The result is that travel does change you, deeply, but not by simply powering you up to some kind of super-talented globetrotter. If anything, travel changes you most effectively by undermining your sense of self, your certainty. It forces you to rethink things you believe.

Such as your purpose in life.

This is a pillar of heroic philosophy, the idea that simply going out and adventuring will bring you in contact with your calling, whatever that might be. For me, that has meant not only discovering new truths about myself, but also letting go—sometimes painfully—of things I was convinced I wanted.

Having shed so many of my old beliefs on the 1,800 mile bike ride, I didn’t expect another shakeup, not anytime soon. I felt a renewed sense of purpose during my stay in New Orleans, a certainty of my next steps: bike to Texas. Now, on buses and beaches and completely off-track, I would slip into daydreams and wonder what I could do instead.

The walking mall (Calle el Conde), Santo Domingo.

The walking mall (Calle el Conde), Santo Domingo.

Our last days in Santo Domingo were filled with exploratory strolls down old colonial streets, hand in hand, talking about anything besides what next. In the evenings we went to the hidden Cuban restaurant, where Serge would bring us mojitos and picaderas, a rocks glass of rum in his hand like he was our uncle at a family dinner. No one but us came in; “Dominicans don’t like anything different,” Serge said.

It was a sentiment I could relate to. Our life had become an idyllic one, traveling the Caribbean with just enough money, our Spanish on the mend, our love getting cozy. Why would I want anything to change?

The truth is, I didn’t.

As we walked I would think about the busy, hard life of writing while bicycling. I would think about how I imagine Texas and rural Louisiana, about camping in a small hammock illegally by the side of the road, about dodging semi-trucks and eating at gas stations. I found it hard to stir up any flavor of zeal for returning to that life.

It really wasn’t about my relationship with Jessica. We figured that out with relative ease (eventually): she’s going to come visit me in Texas when I reach it, and we’ll take it one step at a time. My crisis of the last few weeks was really, it turns out, about my own future

Angel Urrely, "Deforestación de la jungle a la botánica," in the Museo de Arte Moderno in Santo Domingo.

Angel Urrely, “Deforestación de la jungle a la botánica,” in the Museo de Arte Moderno in Santo Domingo.

We went to the Plaza de la Cultura, a cluster of national museums tucked somewhere between a university, the US Embassy and Santo Domingo’s only real freeway. We had just a few hours, so we chose in advance to see (only) the Museo de Arte Moderno. Had we known what we’d find, we would have gone for a whole day.

The Plaza is more like a campus or a private park. We strolled among fountains, massive trees and oh-so-rare green space. At first we couldn’t understand the peculiar sense of enchantment we found there, until we realized: it’s the only place in Santo Domingo that’s quiet.

That silence and magic stuck with me. Latin America takes art and scholarship seriously in a way that my home culture simply doesn’t. There’s a special reverence for education, and in turn for academics who devote their lives to study. Philosophic questions are fare for casual conversation. In the United States a PhD is a “piece of paper”; in the Latin world it is proof of real knowledge, knowledge that can change the world.

Inside, I clicked into my museum mode. I overflowed with questions about technique and meaning and artist intent. I had sudden ideas for new works of art. At closing time the docent had to kick us out, me fighting to snap pictures of artist names so I wouldn’t forget them.

It was there, strolling at sunset through a temple of culture, that I glimpsed a life I could be happy with. Not working in a museum; I had done that already. Not becoming an academic, necessarily, though I’ve long considered the option of grad school once I finish my journey.

But I could see myself in that world, somewhere in the intersection of culture, education, creating art as a writer, and connecting people as a traveler.

In other words, I’m not so sure my purpose involves less adventurer in “philosopher-adventurer,” but it does likely involve more philosopher. 

Me having fun covered in mud.

Me having fun covered in mud.

Jess and I flew back. She’s in New York, on business, but she left me her apartment. For a few short days I have the bliss of sunny windows, good wi-fi and no distractions: the perfect place to write.

Then I need to leave.

New Orleans is my favorite American city—our least American city—but what I love is Latin America, every part of it I’ve been to. I don’t want to be in the United States, not temporarily and certainly no longer than needed. That means I need to rethink whether I want to spend many months training in Texas so I can kayak south.

I thought my purpose in life was to be an adventurer, to set great and near-impossible tasks and then push myself till I complete them. That 8,000 mile trek to Brazil still appeals to me.

But my journey makes me question that purpose (that is, after all, what journeys do). It makes me wonder: would I be happier getting there faster, living longer in fewer places, writing all day instead of biking all day?

And if I would be happier with that, why delay it another four years with this great trek?

I will at least go as far as Texas on the bike—and maybe keep going. By this time next week I will, indeed, be camping illegally by the side of the road. I will almost certainly be eating at gas stations. I will be following a dream I’m not sure is possible. And I won’t know why.

Some part of me says: because it’s what you’re meant to do. I’m just not sure I can trust that part of me.

Andre Sólo, Favorites, Personal Development, Spanish, Travel

Inviting Others to Name Me

Photo by rytc, original art by Monseiur A.

Every adventurer needs a great name.

I believe that your identity, your persona is largely tied to how you call yourself, and how others call you. Names have power, they say—the power to define. In my country we’re almost universally defined by others, with names assigned at birth. While it’s normal to choose a form of that name that “feels” right (Andrew, Andy, or Drew?), it’s uncommon to use a name of your own choosing.

But there can be great liberation in doing so.

As Lady Gaga famously said, “When I wake up in the morning, I feel like any other insecure 24-year-old girl. Then I say, ‘Bitch, you’re Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today.’” And I don’t doubt that the people around her react differently to the entity Lady Gaga than they would to Stefani Germanotta—the name she’s carried since birth.

My own identity has changed over the years. I vacillated from “Drew” in college years, to “Andrew” in the hope of sounding more professional, then back to Drew as I sought to make a fresh start, to break free of the work-laden, unhappily married man that Andrew had become.

It worked.

Since starting to publish my identity morphed again: my friends still call me Drew, but it’s common for them to refer to me personally as Rogue Priest or simply Rogue. “Alright Rogue Priest, what are the plans tonight?”

This delights me, but it’s not the only new direction my name has to take. I’m on assignment in a Spanish-speaking country, and promise to be in a good seven more before this self-created Adventure concludes.

Know any native Spanish speakers? Ask them to say “Drew.” Try “Andrew” too if you want.

I discovered this glitch on my first Mexico trip in 2006, back when I was still rocking Andrew. Nobody understood my name, despite my enthusiastic attempts to learn me llamo. It was like white people trying to pronounce long Indian names.

I would encourage any Indian (or any other minority in the US) to wear their names loud and proud, without any concern how hard it is on whitey. But I also respect how hard it is to fit into a culture with a name no one can pronounce, and as a white American I’m on the other side of the privilege waterfall.

I have a greater duty to adapt to my host cultures because the default circumstance is for them to cater to me—to an unfair degree.

So I’ve long toyed with using an adopted name while abroad, and on this trip I’m testing it out.

Soy André

The problem is I didn’t know what that adopted name might be. My parents chose a name I happen to adore (after vetting such options as “Chester” and “Wynne”). Andrew comes from the ancient Greek word for “man.” It signifies the virtue of manliness: a quality every man was supposed to strive to possess, comprising bravery, strength, and judicious aggression to one’s enemies.

I’m not a big fan of patriarchy, but in the search for heroism that virtue is one that every woman or man should keep in mind.

The Spanish form of Andrew is Andrés, but for years I thought it was André—and I like that better. André is simple and strong.

Plus, it equips a certain mystique. André is correct in French, but not in Spanish or Portugese. That means that while the name is easy to pronounce for new friends I meet, it will sound unusual, maybe even exotic. If there’s any quality I exemplify it’s unusuality.

From Day One here in the Dominican Republic I’ve introduced myself as André. Occasionally someone will unconsciously add the “-s”, but mostly everyone has understood it and (perhaps because it’s uncommon) remembered it easily.

Like Madonna Or Something

That leaves Jacob, my surname. I have no desire to change my surname, being proud of a lineage of strong, determined and clever Jacobs who stretch back through Pittsburgh to Germany (and my Kings, Forkinses, Hesses too).

But I don’t feel particularly connected to Jacob. And while I have no intention of changing it, I think I’ll stop using it for a bit.

That puts my name as simply André —.

Going by a single name can seem dramatic. Last time I tried it out was with my trusted oracle, Melissa Haney. I could hear her giggling as she tweeted, “The @Rogue_Priest sends me mail from just ‘Drew’ like he’s Madonna or something.”

But, you know, I don’t really mind dramatic. I do things full-way, the way they ought to be done, the way giants would do them, or as near as I can get.

But going André-only has a greater benefit. In real-life interactions, using just one name practically begs people to add another. By going as André I invite others to name me, to narrate exactly who and what André the philosopher-adventurer is.

Where “André Jacob” simply sounds like a multicultural train wreck, “André —” easily becomes “Andre the ___.”

This puts us back where we started, with other people defining who I am—but this time on my own terms. By choosing André I set the stage for who and what I intend to be: a traveler from faraway, and one who stands for something. How people fill in the blank will reflect their culture (which I’m visiting) as well as my actual deeds and how well I live up to my search for heroism.

Of course, I don’t expect grand monikers. How people complete my name will be partly under my control, as I choose to use the versions that make me smile and not the ones that seem mean-spirited. But it’s also beyond my control, and I expect the blank in “André the ___” will change many times depending on who I’m with and what I do.

Ultimately, my sobriquet might come more from practical necessity than anything else:

“What’s your name?”


“André what—?”

Only André.”

But then, André Sólo doesn’t have a bad ring to it.

Think this name will evolve the way I hope? Please leave me a comment below and tell me: how would you fill in “André the ___”?

Andre Sólo, Favorites, Social Skills

How to Use Twitter (and why it beats FB)

“Another Drew Jacob shortcut,” I breathed.

We were covered in mud, bites, sweat, bruises and just about everything except the tangy salt of a day in the ocean. It was a 6 mile bike ride to the hidden beach but I found a shortcut on a map. (I love shortcuts.) We never got there.

I didn’t write the story of that exhausting day, but I did drop a hint:


Earning Its Keep

Many people are surprised that Twitter is my favorite (now only) social network. I never run out of friends who say, “I don’t need to hear what someone had for breakfast today,” or “I don’t get Twitter.”

I can’t help you fix what other people tweet about—though if they tweet about their breakfast, you’re following the wrong people—but I can help explain Twitter: how it works, why I like it more than Facebook, and how to get the most out of it.

Unlike Google+, Twitter is not a Facebook clone. It’s a profoundly different tool that does different things. It’s less about stalking friends/family and more about knowing what’s going on in the world—or making connections with new people.

In many ways, Twitter is for “advanced” internet users. Every tweet is limited to 140 characters—nothing more. That forces you to think about what you’re saying, and how to say it succinctly and well.

Here are the advantages Twitter has, that make it my favorite social media site:

  • Simpler. Twitter is the simplest and most streamlined social site. Everything happens in one column, and everything works the same way: no “pages,” “groups,” “causes,” “games” or anything else. You can share websites or pictures, but only as links in your tweet. It’s simple.
  • Not as addictive. Interacting on any social site gives you a hit of dopamine, just like chatting with a friend does. But some sites are designed to try to hold your eyes on the screen as long as possible. Twitter doesn’t do that. Brands can’t build their own on-Twitter presence, so any link you share is an external link. Unlike G+, Pinterest or Facebook, Twitter doesn’t try to keep you there.
  • Less clingy. On Facebook, if a real-life friend tries to friend you and you don’t accept, you’re rude; if you un-friend someone it’s a statement. On Twitter, “following” is not a personal judgment. I don’t follow all my friends and I unfollow people freely. It’s more like a news source or a chat room, and less like a yearbook.
  • Higher quality content. Twitter forces you to curate your content. All the factors above—the short, to-the point format; the easy-to-leave website; the social acceptability of unfollowing—combine to incentivize smart, funny or interesting tweets. On Facebook if you write boring/annoying posts, I stay your friend because we went to 4th grade summer school together. On Twitter, if you write boring posts you lose followers.
  • Ads aren’t intrusive. Twitter sometimes places a single “sponsored” tweet at the top of your stream. It always identifies itself as sponsored and they are never aggressive or deceptive. Thank you, Twitter!
  • Builds new relationships. Because Twitter is not a friends-only platform, it’s easy to meet new and interesting people. On Facebook, if I send a friend request to someone I don’t know, it’s weird—and J.K. Rowling will never friend me back. On Twitter, instead of waving at existing friends, it’s normal to make fascinating new ones or have conversations with people you admire.

Basically, Twitter gives you much more power over what comes your way. Twitter can be used to keep up with friends, but it’s a more fluid platform that lets you focus on meeting who you want to meet, or reading what you want to read.

Nuts and Bolts

There are many Twitter how-to’s out there, but the basic concepts to understand are:

  • When you “follow” someone, you can see all their tweets. They might not follow you back.
  • You can tweet at anyone, by putting @theirusername (for example) in your tweet, even if you don’t follow each other. They will see this.
  • Hashtags are helpful. Instead of tweeting, “I blog about adventure,” I could tweet, “I blog about #adventure” and other people looking for that hashtag (#adventure) would easily find me. (Punctuation breaks hashtags: if you try #isn’tlifecrazy you actually create the hashtag #isn, which makes no sense.)
  • Follow people you find interesting and don’t pressure them to follow you.
  • Not sure who to follow? Search by interesting hashtags, or follow the Twitter accounts of your favorite writers. Mine is @Rogue_Priest (surprise).


How I Use It

I’ve been using Twitter since I still had a job. I’ve always found it to be a more valuable tool than any other social network. That’s partly because of the reasons above, but it’s also how I use it.

I’ve developed practices to maximize what I get from Twitter. Because of this, I enjoy reading it as much as you might enjoy the Sunday paper. I often start a morning with my coffee and my stream, catching up on killer articles Twitter has brought my way—it’s a relaxing experience, with reading material tailored just to me.

Here are my best practices. These are just my own preferences—you might use your account differently than I do.

  • Privacy settings. I once heard author Tessa Zeng tell someone, “If you set your Twitter account to private, you’re not actually using Twitter,” and she’s not wrong. By default, anyone can see your tweets (whether they follow you or not) and anyone can follow you (you don’t get to accept or deny it like a FB friend request). Keep these settings—you’ll build more followers, meet more people, and have a reason not to say nasty things in your tweets.
  • I don’t follow everyone I know. Like any social media tool, Twitter can search your email contacts and suggest people for you to follow. Take a pass on that. Think about specific people you find interesting and follow them. You’ll have less noise and get a lot more value out of your stream.
  • When someone follows me, I don’t follow back. When I started on Twitter I thought it was good etiquette to follow back everyone who followed me. Anything else would be rude, right? Wrong. It’s not an insult to not follow someone back. Only follow them if you think they’re interesting, or if their profile and tweets are tantalizing.
  • Never follow companies. Why would you?
  • Follow less than 100 people. This is a longstanding rule for many Twitter users, and it pays off. Checking Twitter should be a relaxing experience where you see things that make you grin—not a stressful experience with more noise than signal. If you find yourself approaching 100, take a few minutes to trim off the ones you don’t really pay attention to.
  • I don’t use lists. Optionally, Twitter allows you to create “lists” to sort and organize the people you follow. I never use them—they just take more time and effort, and they’re never needed if I follow less than 100 people. (I do look at other people’s lists to find the folks they think are interesting.)
  • Retweet often. Anytime you find yourself enjoying a link that someone tweeted, RT it (giving them credit) so your own followers can enjoy it.
  • I make a point of tweeting things I like. I read online a lot, and anytime I like an article or site, I make a point to shorten its URL and tweet it with a snappy headline and a little comment.

A retweet.

Clearly, these are my own habits that support how I prefer to use Twitter—as a place to find and share high quality articles, and have meaningful conversations with the people I respect.

You might use Twitter differently, or not like using it at all. There won’t be any pressure for Rogue Priest readers to use Twitter—even as I leave Facebook you can subscribe to the site via email or RSS (check the right-hand sidebar of this very page).

But if you want to have more contact with me, or if you want to put my claim to the test and see if Twitter can be as useful for you as it is for me, then these are the habits I suggest. I believe they’ll help make your experience with Twitter far more meaningful. They’ll definitely help you beat the learning curve and avoid the frustration of many beginning users.

Are you on Twitter? Leave a comment with a link to your account. I’ll follow you for a week to see if I dig what you share.

L Days cover_front only_half size

My book Lúnasa Days is available on Kindle and in paperback. Get your copy here.

Adventure, Favorites

There is a Spirit its name is Adventure

I thought I knew what adventure is. I didn’t have a clue.

What is adventure? Adventure is a temperature change in the furnace of the heart.

Adventure is a tremor when you look up at your fear.

It’s the cold floor beneath a child’s feet when they leave their bed at night. It’s the scrape when you climb your first rock, the dingy apartment when you go back to school.

Adventure is an orientation, not an act.

It’s wanting what you don’t want, it’s eyes wide shut, it’s trembling and stumbling forward although you’d rather leave.

There is a Spirit, its name is Adventure.

This spirit grips the heart. You feel it there during, or just after, certain difficult experiences. Like a Vodou saint it rides you, its presence is undeniable. You find yourself shaking and you wonder what you did.

There’s no way I just did that!

How is this spirit called? What draws it into being? I don’t know, I’m just an adventurer. There’s no prescription for adventure. More like a recipe book, a wizard’s secret tome. The secret isn’t in the pages, the secret comes from trial.

The more I study adventure the more I see that I can never describe it.

Here is what I’ve learned.

  • Your adventures count. They matter. The adventures you’ve had are yours forever.
  • The value of adventure is post-active. Adventures are frightening in the moment, but they become your most treasured experiences looking back.
  • If you make a willful choice to challenge your boundaries—whatever those boundaries are—you are likely to have an adventure.
  • Adventure never happens without risk. What counts as risk? It depends on you.
  • Adventure will overwhelm you. When it hits you will be scared, you will shake, you will want to run back. This is part of what you need.
  • Your adventures may be different from mine. It’s okay. Adventure on, my friends.

When you have one adventure you will have more. Adventures are part of a larger narrative we put on our lives. They push us toward bigger adventures. A seemingly small adventure can be momentous. Or the first step in a greater unknown.

I thought I knew what adventure is. I didn’t have a clue. I looked at my adventures, and I identified “adventure.” But Adventure is much more than the six or ten things I’ve done, more than the things any scared human does. It’s that greater human drive to explore, challenge and, yes, even walk with fear.

Adventure is in the heart of the seeker.
Adventure, Favorites, Spotlight

I Faked an Answer About Adventure

I spoke on Friday’s Hero Report about my journey and the way adventure shapes me as a person.

Hosts Matt and Ari had some great questions, one of which I had no answer to. After I described the dangerous areas of my trip and the preparation that I’m making, Ari asked me a:

[Laughing] Every word you say makes it sound worse to me than it sounded before you said that particular sentence. I don’t like adventures. I am a homebody: I like to sit and read a book or watch television or listen to music. Or think about something, whatever. I am not racing out and doing and seeing… What kind of adventure could I have?

I answered by sputtering through a personal anecdote and threw some softball suggestions: try a leadership position? Volunteer somewhere? Travel to a non-resort area?

What I should have said to this question is: Ari, I have no idea.

I don’t know if armchair adventure is possible. I hope it is, but I’m not sure what it even looks like.

Do you?

A point that I’ve made over and over is that I don’t expect everyone to do what I’m doing. When I advocate that people add adventure to their lives, I mean they should find a way to do so that matches their passions, their interests and the realities of their personal life.

I believe adventure can be accessible and safe for anyone. Loreen Niewenhuis was a single mother when she successfully walked around Lake Michigan. She did it in segments, driving to where she left off last time, to balance it with her duties at home. 1,000 miles on foot, one short trip at a time: amazing.

But it seems even this kind of controlled, safe adventure would be too much for Ari and, I suspect, lots of other healthy adults.

So I have this dilemma. I want to identify practices that anyone can do—anyone at all, indoors or outdoors, at age 20 or age 60. But I don’t want to redefine adventure to mean any old activity you do on your couch.

I need your ideas. What does a starter adventure look like? What does “adventure” mean for people who are homebodies or prefer the indoors?

Is it possible?

Favorites, Poetry

Who Once We Were


I believe we have a duty to the children:

Not just the children we raise,

The children we meet,

The orphans;

But to the children who once we were

Who Dreamed so many great things for Who They Would Become.

When you rise,

Do your job,

Greet the world,

Do you make that Dreaming spirit proud?

Or have you neglected

the first child

you ever loved?

Adventure, Favorites, Heroism, Personal Development, The Great Adventure, The Heroic Life, Travel

Purpose: Find the Heroic Life

As June 21 draws near I confront my motivations for the journey ahead. This is the final installment of a three part series on why I’m going on the Adventure. Find Part I here and Part II here.

A Heroic Faith

What is there to say?

In my heart, I believe we can do great things.

I’ve created a practicum which, if followed, is supposed to race you toward that end:

Taking action, living for high ideals, charging fearlessly into new and grand plans, building a name around your art or skill, and using your life to change the way the world works.

The whole thing must be tested. I mean “tested” to see if it works; I also mean it the way a baby tests his legs. I will never understand the vehicle I’ve made unless I enter into it and live it for myself.

Neither will anyone else, unless they do too.

Why This Journey

The Heroic Life is a philosophy of action. It is not believed but done, not theory but experience. Its central practice is action: leave and go on a journey.

Many readers will look at my story, take a little piece of the philosophy, and fit it into their lives. I approve of that. I hope it helps your life, even if your life is not one of travel.

But for the heroic to be more than fiction, there must be people who believe in it so deeply, so humanly, that they live it. It is those people I wish to walk beside.

And if I don’t walk it myself, suggesting it is unconscionable.

The Value

If small knots of people join together to live this way, the world will be greater. A fellowship of heroes-to-be: let us leave home, walk where we will, learn what we can, and offer cheerful aid to troubled people.

If this one idea can catch on, the sky will look a little different.

When just a few people give everything to uplift others and carry no agenda, hope travels with them. Then more people take heroic action.

The next two, three, five years will teach me how to make this machine work. If there is a philosophy that can create and unite this kind of fellowship, I will discover it. And when I know how it works, then the real project of the Great Adventure will be complete: then I’ll have used travel to find my purpose, and be ready to help others do the same.

Wish me luck, Rogues, and if you want to lend your support, help a traveler sometime.

What’s the best way to learn about the heroic life as I travel? Do you have suggestions?

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.

Favorites, Religion, The Great Adventure

Purpose: Meet the Gods

Arise, awake, and learn by approaching the exalted ones,
for that path is sharp as a razor’s edge, impassable,
and hard to go by, say the wise.

Katha Upanishad 1.3.14

As June 21 draws near I confront my motivations for the journey ahead. This is Part II of a three part series on why I’m going on the Adventure. See Part I here.

Why the Gods?

Here’s the world I live in. We are on our own; we make our own Fate; the world is good or bad as we create it.

But it’s a haunted world.

Around us are the sources of wonder. Things so grand and vast that we remember how small we are. We remember that the quest for dominion is a doomed sortie, a fight against a superior force, Eternity. In quiet moments we reflect on this, and voices whisper to us the greatness of the living universe where we struggle.

Myth tells us these voices are the sound of the gods.

The gods did not make this world, and not one of them rules it. They are its executors, its functionaries, more to the point its soul and its face.

I am not convinced that’s wrong.

Can awareness be transferred, recycled, disembodied, left in the rain? If so, it can dwell in world around us.

The Value

The language of religion is one of humanity’s best technologies.

Classical philosophers saw fit to retain and use the language of myth + religion. They encouraged people to treat it as metaphor. This is because the language of myth, even when explicitly stated to be nonliteral, speaks to the core of the human spirit. It’s exactly why I just used “spirit” and not “the core of the human mentality.”

Meeting the gods isn’t about proving whether they’re real, though the quest may give me some insight into that.

The reason I want to meet the gods is because they represent what’s highest and best in us. To pursue them necessarily spurs the pursuit of our own divine nature.

I want to meet them because they inspire.

And most of all, I want to meet the gods because that’s the stuff of myth, and wherever the journey takes me that’s how I want to live.

The Form

Is prayer the right way to do this? Possibly. But prayer seems a lot like talking to yourself in the dark.

The object of the Great Adventure is to meet them in person. Knock-on-Mount-Olympus-style meet them. Oh Zeus isn’t here? No worry, I’ll grab a seat meet them.


Whatever sounds impossible is fertile ground for adventure. I’m putting the ideal over the acceptable. When Gilgamesh set out to find a cure for death, he failed—but what he achieved is epic.

If there are gods to meet then the mere act of living mythically, of following the quest to its final end, is the way to attract their attention.

If there are gods to hear us, I wish to be heard.

More: I wish to listen.

If you enjoy reading Rogue Priest, believe in my journey, or just love seeing a spirited adventurer on the road, please consider making a donation to the cause. Your gift will help fund professional-quality equipment for the Great Adventure. It’ll keep me safe and help every step of the way.