On Vision Questing

Jan 11

A vision quest* is a Native American rite of passage, an ancient means to find spiritual guidance and purpose in the seclusion of the wilderness. The Lakota Sioux called it “Crying for a Dream,” which, while maybe melodramatic, gets straight to the point. They climbed up the mountain, hunting for revelation, and didn’t come down until they found it.


Photo credit: Mount Triglav in Slovenia by ivanmarn

Vision Quest is also what I’m doing right now. Mandy and I are staying in a quaint little $75/night Airbnb back house in the misty mountains of Western North Carolina, hammering away at spreadsheets, calendars, dreams, and practicalities, setting a course for 2013.

While I’m sure it’s entirely possible, I’ve never stumbled on a deep desire by accident.

Direction, not intention, determines destination.
—Andy Stanley

And so we meet, we talk, we pray, we plan, we imagine, because we want our life to be intentional, not accidental. We want to steward well the limited time we have.

One of my Christmas presents for Mandy was a 100+ page book of Instagram photos, in chronological order, as a year-in-review of 2012. It’s sad, but ultimately understandable, how many things we almost forgot happened to us and around us in the last year. Those photos, collected, curated, bound, and gifted, help us remember milestones and markers of a difficult, wonderful, adventurous, tumultuous year. Without those touchpoints, I fear much of our experience would simply cease to be, and thus cease to inform our future. Without remembering, we naturally forget, and eventually entire seasons fade from memory.

January 2012 was the first time we drove up the mountain to quest for vision in an official capacity, and so it was a fascinating exercise to begin this year’s quest with a review of last year’s notes. All of the questions. All of the conclusions. Decisions made, desires voiced.

If you don’t measure something, you can’t truly make informed decisions about the thing. Having a list of the decisions we made at the beginning of last year, seeing what we actually followed through on and accomplished, what we were naive/uninformed about, what were just plain dumb things to even think about, it’s truly an amazing gift of retrospection. It’s just like the photo book, really. A different medium, maybe, but a similar message. Milestones and markers. Proof of forward momentum. Aspirations. Fulfillment. Longing. Growth.

You had your whole life to prepare for this moment. Why aren’t you ready?
—Bobby Scott, Spartan

This weekend we’ll cover hundreds of decisions under larger categories like rest, finances, our business, my business, our side projects, our fitness, gardening, community, home, health, etc. And we’ll make a roadmap. Budgets, constraints, goals, to-do lists, stuff to craft, stuff to code, bureaucracies to war with, partners to build with, new skills to acquire, dreams to pray into existence—these are the visions we go up the mountain in search of.

And we won’t come down until we have revelation.

*Vision Quest was also an 1985 coming of age Matthew Modine movie about wrestling, a worn VHS copy of which was passed from team captain to team captain on my high school wrestling team since, I presume, the 80s. But that is a story for another time…

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