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Your mission, if you choose to accept it...
We're on a mission from God.
Half the world seems to be on the move these days. We think, ensconced in our respective countries, that issues of immigration are ours only. They are worldwide. Those issues are to the fore in the Swedish elections this week. I read today, that Mexico has vast amounts of temporary and permanent foreign visitors. A great many are from THAT vast neighbour next door. We don’t hear that often, do we, more the opposite, thanks to Trump. Something lures them there, what is it that they want?
What indeed. Maybe they are on a quest.
Apart from refugees , fleeing from war or persecution, why do people travel vast distances, by various means of transport, but often on foot? What are they seeking?
Monty Python- The Quest for the Holy Grail
A quest, by its very nature must have a goal.
That can include an item, a person, a higher purpose for humankind, family honour, a dwelling, an education, a career, enlightenment, seeking ancestors, wealth, fame by selfies, seeing the Old country again, finding oneself, being The First.
I read a German folk tale , recorded by the Brothers Grimm, about a young man who went on a quest to find fear. Yes, fear. Right up until the end, he sought to “shudder”. You will have to read the link at the end of this post later to find out what did give him the shudders. It wasn’t all the gory things that happened along the way.
I have a younger friend that wants to go and live in a country I consider dangerous. He doesn’t feel any fear about it. He’s not stupid, just intrepid.
Get your dancing jeans on for this one:
Kansas - Carry on Wayward Son
The folk tale reminded me of the young men that journeyed vast distances from colonial countries ruled by the UK in World War 1 , such as Australia, who joined the armed forces to travel and get life experiences. Young men often don’t know fear much. That can be caused by a combination of testosterone and ignorance of the perils, I think. However, gassed in the trenches , torpedoed in ships, or falling out of the sky in planes, they gained their life experiences alright. They learned the meaning of terror, and if they survived, often had it for life, in the form of PTSD. (Post traumatic stress disorder.) Returning from the quest they embarked on as naive youths, they stared with much older eyes that held horror, and fought with their loved ones, changed by their fate, the fate of returned soldiers down the ages. Of course, many never returned.
All the while, the travel alleviates one’s boredom. Well, parts of it do. Getting becalmed on the high seas, or detained for years in a refugee camp, can put a dampener on enthusiasm.
The quest goal might be strategic, political,
Mahatma Gandhi on the Great Salt March. Photo Wikipedia.
maybe beneficial to the people at home and the people visited too. It may involve gifts, of people, objects, or expertise. It can involve climbing down from pride:
The West Wing - President Bartlet walks to the hill.
and a small step, but a long journey through time to get there:
North and South Korean leaders shake hands at the border
The goal may be a religious one, once in a lifetime, or repeated. Many religions have holy places that pilgrims wish to travel to at least once in their lives.
Many choose to walk these routes at least part of the way.
(In Jerusalem part of one route is crawled. ) They may deliberately choose humble or historic dress, a walking cane, symbolic trappings.
After all , many of the great originators and heros of those religions went on quests, attired as above, trusting to a higher being to supply their needs. The higher beings worked through people, or sometimes miraculously, animals. Just to show their power, food might just appear, such as manna falling from Heaven.
There are sometimes things given up when one goes on a quest. Jobs left, homes rented out or sold, friends lost, furniture abandoned, kissing Mother goodbye. One may never come back, many don’t. Then at their destination , if they arrive in great numbers, existing populations can lose out - populations of indigenous people, and earlier questers, also populations of flora and fauna. The former can and do protest. The latter can’t, they become endangered, and increasingly, extinct. The reasons for people to visit, the things they want to see, become scarce.
The goal sought might be too elusive, or it may be attained, and harm the quester. They may not mind that, or they may regret the quest. They may look forward or back.
Tell me in the comments, what is your quest?
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: 3 Questions
Why Chinese are migrating overseas:
The Salt March of Gandhi:
Grey nomads in Australia:
“It is not about how you travel, it's all about the travel itself.” -The Queensland Times
The Story of a Boy
Who Went Forth to Learn Fear
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: