Not all who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Continuing on from the last blog, The Quester, we will continue our conversation about purpose. Specifically, we are looking into how purpose is presenting itself in the world today and the three main archetypes that all share the quality of discovering purpose, each in a different way. The Quester, Adventurer, and Journeyer each have a distinct and nuanced relationship to purpose. In this blog series we are exploring each of them.
QUESTER, ADVENTURER, OR JOURNYER?
To recap, the first blog about the Quester stated that they find purpose in their goal. What happens along the way is only important if it serves the end goal. There have been a lot of positives that have come out of living as the Quester. We have been able to create some awe-inspiring things as a species. The questing way of being in the world has also created a lot of damage and fueled a lot of pain.
The Adventurer is the antithesis of the Quester. The Adventurer finds purpose in the moment. Where the Adventurer ends up isn’t important, as long as they are present to life unfolding here and now. This way of life has had a resurgence in the culture as of late but is still a less practiced form of purpose in the West. For those who are true Adventurers, awe is a frequent part of their experience. The Adventuring way of being in the world too has its pitfalls.
The final blog will attempt to capture the value from both as we talk about the Journeyer. The proposal in the final blog will be to leave behind the downfalls of the Quester and the Adventurer and capture the profound upsides of both. As with most archetypes, we hold some of each within us. There is a possibility that we cannot find the perfect path to walk, but perhaps we will find trying to be a worthy endeavor. Recognizing where you are an Adventurer can be an interesting addition to making your way through life.
Just like the Quester, purpose as one’s intention or objective is one of the primary ways the Adventurer operates. However, the difference comes in where they derive purpose from. For the Adventurer, purpose is found in being present to life as it unfolds.
The Adventurer doesn’t have a top of the mountain they are aiming towards. For them, each moment is rich and full of vibrant life. Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense to think about having an aim or another place where they’d rather be. Being alive, no matter where that is, holds the richness they find purpose in.
There is a felt sense of aliveness in life that is often missed or overlooked. The Adventurer learns to become aware of the subtle life force all around them. Taking a walk in nature can be a deeply wonderful and awe-inspiring experience for the Adventurer. With each step, they breathe in the moment.
Some questions that the Adventurer pose to themselves would be: How does it feel to be alive right now? What is it like to be me right now? What is life if not the embodied knowing and embracing of these questions?
The quote “not all who wander are lost,” encompasses the true adventure found in this way of life. Wandering through life is not aimless for the Adventurer, rather it is an opportunity to connect deeply with life itself. There is no specific place where one must arrive for this to take place. There is no “there” or “then” that must first be achieved for the Adventurer to feel alive. We are each alive in this moment and the Adventurer finds purpose in that fact alone.
Along the path, the Adventurer learns to deepen their ability to feel. The deeper they can feel, the deeper they can connect. However, this isn’t always a picnic. Learning to feel can often be a painful experience. To hold a greater capacity for love also means the Adventurer opening themselves to hold a greater capacity for fear. All of the emotions, thoughts, somatic sensations, and energetic experiences hold the yin and yang, the renewing and depleting, the pleasure and pain. However, the Adventurer finds this endeavor worth the richness that it brings to the experience of life. In fact, because there is no “there” where the Adventurer is meant to arrive, the pain is just as rich as the pleasure, because it is how life is unfolding in that moment.
CULTURE OF ADVENTURING
As stated in the previous blog, the West has adopted the Quester archetype as one of its primary modes of operation. The Adventurer archetype, however, is less common. Where we tend to see the Adventurer pockets of society are in the arts and recreational sections.
If you think about music or dance, the purpose of both isn’t found in the finish or end, rather it is found in act itself. Losing oneself in the movement of the body as it flows with the music is where the essence of dance finds its richness. Falling into an enchanted harmony with the rhythm of the music is deeply potent experience. There is a transcendent experience to be discovered in both and the Adventurer flows with the moment as they are engulfed in that experience.
Certain games and sports hold the same experience. While many sports facilitate a competitive experience, they also create an intense presence and sense of fun. Having fun hanging out with friends playing volleyball at the beach or playing a round of cards can be much more rewarding than simply keeping score and tracking a winner and loser.
There are certain practices that encompass the Adventurer spirit that have been catching the interest of the West in recent decades as well. Meditation is the art of being present to what arises in the moment, being with it completely, and letting go of anything that gets in the way of that. Over time, the participant trains their ability to be present in the moment and be with the arising of life. In part, facilitating their inner Adventurer to come forth.
While there are parts of our society that hold some Adventurer energy, they are often distorted by an exhaustion or need for escape from the Quester mode of operation. For instance, leisure time can often be an escape from the stress and anxiety of being in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This can lead to the need for coping mechanisms taking hold such as numbing out through overeating, drugs, Netflix, SM, etc. Instead of truly enjoying the moment and feeling more deeply into life, it becomes a way to check out.
The Adventurer has its own downsides as well. As we talked about in the last blog about the Quester, there have been many wonderful advances in technology, healthcare, etc. that have come from having a goal and sticking to it. Many Adventurers struggle with structure and can find ways to demonize the need for organization and structure as a whole. Scientific advances as a human species, including a resulting general better quality of life (modern housing, air conditioning, hot showers, plumbing, etc) are due to the Quester archetype and not the Adventurer.
The Adventurer also walks a fine line with integrity. While there are those who truly find a coherence with life, there are those who use the Adventurer archetype to bypass responsibility and accountability. In the guise of being in the moment, or being spiritual, or being at peace with what is, there are those who don’t actually lean into the difficult moments of life.
When the painful emotions arise, such as fear or shame, and their self-image is called into question, like perceiving themselves as unworthy or lost in life, it may be easier to not come into an aligned relationships with those thoughts and feelings. This also may show up as bypassing a potential need to take care of themselves or loved ones, and as a result the Adventurer can find ways to offload meeting the needs of the moment.
However, this isn’t the true Adventurer, this is what is known as Adventurer signaling. Adventurer signaling means that the person is putting out the signal that they are deeply present with the unfolding of life but aren’t actually in that state.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
As with most archetypes, we hold some of each within us. Recognizing where you are an Adventurer can be an interesting addition to making your way through life. The next and final blog in this series, the Journeyer, will attempt to be a merger of the Quester and the Adventurer. In this archetype, when done in a mature way, the Journeyer is a synthesis of the positives associated with the Quester and Journeyer and leaves behind as many of the downfalls of each as possible.