“It is only possible to succeed at second-rate pursuits . . . First-rate pursuits — involving, as they must, trying to understand what life is about and trying to convey that understanding — inevitably result in a sense of failure . . . Understanding is forever unattainable. Therein lies the inevitability of failure in embarking upon its quest, which is none the less the only one worthy of serious attention” (Malcolm Muggeridge).
IF THERE ARE NO QUESTS THAT INSPIRE US, THEN WE’RE LIVING LIFE FAR BELOW THE LEVEL WE SHOULD ENJOY. There is no poorer person than the one without any dreams. If you fall into this category, you’d do yourself a favor by finding something to live for — and even something to die for. There are many worthy quests you might consider, some more challenging than others. Look into some of the “first-rate pursuits,” as Malcolm Muggeridge calls them.
But just as there are those who have too few quests in their lives, there are some who have too many. There is a certain type of person who, like a kid in a candy shop, can’t make up his mind what he wants; he wants one of each! If you fall into this category, you need to concentrate your mind and clarify your quest. You need to learn about focus. We can have anything we want, but not everything we want.
One thing that all of us can do is be more appreciative of the goals that give our lives meaning. It’s a wonderful thing, really, to be able to dream as we do and work toward the realization of those dreams. We ought not to take our free minds and wills for granted.
But finally, we can work on improving the quality of our quests. We can elevate our aims and our ambitions, making them, in particular, less self-centered and more outward-oriented. As Keith Yamashita has said, “All meaningful change starts with right aspiration.” If we want to change our lives in significant ways, we need to take a long, hard look at (1) what it is that we want, and (2) why we want it. Is our goal honorable and worthy of aspiration? Are we committed to our quest with all our hearts? Is the quest we’ve embarked upon one we’d give our lives to try to achieve? If so, we’re among the fortunate few!
Whither, O splendid ship, thy white sails crowding,
Leaning across the bosom of the urgent West,
That fearest not sea rising, nor sky clouding,
Whither away, fair rover, and what thy quest?