Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

The latest book by The Art of Non-Conformity's Chris Guillebeau.

I'm about halfway through this wonderful book about quests.  Incredibly inspirational, in fact it is what inspired me to set up this 80 book challenge as my own mini-quest.

The book draws on Chris's experiences of completing his own quest to visit every country in the world - all 190+ of them.  Chris achieved his goal last year and along the way he met many other people engaged in their own personal quest.  Many of the quests involved travel and adventure but not all of them.  Some of the challenges people put themselves through are, to many people, frankly ridiculous like the guy who, after giving up all forms of transport except walking, then gave up speaking and took a vow of silence.  He now works in a university as the only silent teaching assistant! Others were undertaken for a cause, such as the girl who lived in a Tasmanian tree for more than 400 days.  Her goal was to stop loggers destroying the forest and she succeeded.  Yet more, most in fact, were undertaken for personal satisfaction such as the mother who resolved to cook one meal a week from around the world - a complete 3 course dinner with authentic ingredients starting in Albania and proceeding alphabetically. Nevertheless, Chris describes these quests in such an enthusiastic and understanding way that it is easy to go along with their ideas and 'see the point'.

The strong message from the book is that happiness is not something you sit around waiting to happen to you, it is something that happens while you are busy pursuing a goal.  Instead of having dreams resolve to make memories.

Before our children were born, my husband and I used to go caving (potholing)  almost every weekend.  For my husband's fiftieth this month, we revisited old times and, together with my brother and sister-in-law, went up to Yorkshire to go caving again.  We went down Swinsto and had a fantastic experience.  It took me a while to remember how to abseil again but actually I thought I picked it up pretty quickly considering it has been more than 21 years.  I immediately felt at home underground and, yes, I am nowhere near as strong or flexible as I was when we used to cave all the time, but still I didn't do too bad physically.  The ladder climb at the end was hard but it didn't take me nearly as long to recover as I expected.

So alongisde this book challenge I have also set myself the mini-quest of going caving in the UK at least once a month for the next year.

I'd love to take up cave photography but think I'd better get the hang of dragging myself through those underground passages before I start attempting it with camera gear!

(This picture is not me but it is pretty good one of what Swinsto is like).

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