What is a vision quest and why have one? In some Native American cultures a vision quest is a rite of passage. Those going on a Vision Quest usually don’t know what they want to accomplish in life and the quest can reveal their life’s purpose. The seeker or “quester” journeys into an isolated area, usually atop a butte or mountain, and generally without food and water for a period of days. If the quester chooses to embark on the difficult journey he must be sincere in heart or he will not find what he is seeking.
19th-century anthropologists first coined “Vision Quest” to describe the rite-of-passage ceremonies of certain Native American cultures. Vision Quest, or Hanbleceya in Lakota, translates to “Crying for a Dream.” The “quester” is crying out for a Vision or a Sacred Dream. When is the last time you cried for a dream?
Whether young or old we don’t want to get into living a stale life. If you don’t know who you are, your purpose and what you have to give back to society then maybe a vision quest is right for you.
Rite of Passage
A rite of passage is a ceremonial event and marks the transition from one phase of a person’s life to another. Rites of passage exist in all historically known societies and the rite marks the passage of the person(s) from one social or religious status to another. A rite of passage is often used to describe a transition from one place to another in the life of a person; generally it is used to describe the change from adolescence to adulthood. Rites of passage presents a young man with the opportunity to signal to his community that he is ready to accept the responsibilities and privileges of the roles his community defines.
The ethnographer, Arnold Van Gennep in his book “Rites of Passage” stated, “Rites of passage exist in order to consolidate social ties, establish roles, and give members of a group a sense of purpose and placement.”
Though presented as a rite for the young a vision quest can be used by adults who lose their way and purpose in life. Getting back on track can be done by re-examination.
The movie Vision Quest as described by IMDB.com: “In this coming-of-age story, Louden Swain is a high school wrestler who has just turned eighteen and decided that he needs to do something truly meaningful in his life. Against the wishes of those around him, he embarks on a mission to drop two weight classes in order to challenge the toughest opponent, Brian Shute, a menacing 3-time state champion from nearby rival Hoover High School, who has never been defeated in his high school career. In his zeal to drop from 190 pounds to 168 pounds, against the wishes of his coach and teammates, he disrupts the team around him and creates health problems of his own.”
30 years later the music may sound dated for the younger generation and overall is likely too youth-centric for an older crowd to watch but the theme of wanting to find a higher calling in life should appeal to everyone. Our movie hero Louden Swain wants to do two things in his young life: he wants to win the state championship, and win the love of a girl. But everyone tells him that his dream is plain crazy. The high-school state champion is a beast and carries logs on his shoulders and up school-bleachers. Challenging Brian Shute means Louden Swain must spend countless hours running, doing endless push-ups, and trying to cut weight all while trying to find enough time to be a good friend and son. His solitary journey, if he succeeds, will benefit his tribe (his wrestling team and coach) and himself.
Anyone who participated in school sports will remember the excitement of travelling on a school bus in order to meet the other team in order to crush them; and if you were in a solitary sport, such as boxing or wrestling, it was just you against him. Success didn’t come easy. Hard work was done in order to win.
Memories come rushing back…
How does a vision quest work?
1. Preparation: You prepare to be alone for 3-4 days while fasting. Fasting brings a lot of benefits with it, such as: it rests the digestive system, promotes better mental clarity, creates a feeling of physical lightness, and can promote an inner stillness.
2. Solitude: The vision quest experience involves time alone in a place of solitude. A natural place is most ideal. Solitude can alleviate your depression, allows you to time to reflect, and it can boost your focus and memory.
3. Challenge: You are exposed to the elements such sun, wind and rain. It could be hot or cold. You might be bored and the boredom can have you questioning your sanity for taking on such a challenge. But dealing with challenges helps you build inner strength and allows you to face greater challenges in the future. Confronting challenges brings humility as well. Challenges not only teach you that there are many things still to be learned in life but it builds your confidence.
4. Refreshed: When you return you should be more mentally, physically, psychologically and spiritually invigorated and aware.
I am not proposing that you do a Vision Quest alone in the desert. I believe a sincere searching of your heart can be done in the confines of your home. If you choose to do one there are many schools with good guides to give you safe passage.
I AM proposing that every man and woman should sincerely seek out awareness of their individual potential and purpose in life and make it happen. It is good to recharge the batteries. What I am proposing is to remove a lot of your everyday distractions and be very DELIBERATE in your quest.
A couple of things that you can do is shut off the electronics. Don’t call your friends for a few days. Go into the woods or spend time by the ocean for a few days with the express purpose of seeking out what is in your heart. This isn’t party time meant for drinking beers, hunting deer and surfing the waves. This time is meant for some soul-searching. To get somewhere good means to disrobe your heart, spirit and mind and get into thick of things.
- Seek out where you have failed.
- Seek out where you can improve.
- Be honest with yourself
- Ask how you can give more and take less
Every year on my birthday I sit for hours in a place of isolation by the ocean. It is just me, the waves and the seagulls. Great view but not a great time. I force myself to examine every ugly truth about myself by asking some tough questions and I write a list of my failures into a notebook. I also wrote down what I wanted to accomplish in my life; these were things that I felt were bigger than me. I ask myself who I want to be, what I want to give back, and how I can make that happen. This goes on from morning until late evening. I never move from my position. Exhausting…
Under each of my failures I provide 2-3 potential solutions and over a course of time I begin to follow my plan. Over the years I’ve actually knocked things off my bucket list and seen substantial gains in my professional and personal life. I believe that if a person sincerely seeks out their purpose in life they will actually discover what it is they are to do. Spotter Up is about finding a way or making a way out of a problem. Doing nothing about being stuck in a rut is not the way to go. I hope you will find your purpose.
If my suggestions are not palatable to you then try your own, but try something. The character Louden Swain had his Vision Quest. He knew what he wanted in life and he went for it despite the critics. Find that vision.
Many a young man has joined the military, the police academy or enrolled in college by searching his heart and “crying for a dream” and every old, crusty veteran should still be able to find the next challenge and its adjoining reward. I am never too old to dream.