Going on a Vision Quest
September 13, 2011 by Stephanie O'Dea
We recently got back from a roadtrip to Oregon, where we spent (not enough) time at Crater Lake National Park.
If Crater Lake isn’t on your “we really ought to go there” list, I urge you to write it in. I’m a sucker for National Parks. I like being out in nature, but I like the we’re absolutely and perfectly safe feel the National Parks provide with their paved roads, clearly marked signs, trimmed vegetation, readily available flush toilets, and stocked soap dispensers.
I was startled by the blueness of this lake— it was as if someone had dumped in a vat of crayola paint— the blue didn’t look natural, and yet it was. After watching the video in the visitor’s center, I learned that for many many years Americans didn’t believe this lake existed— they thought it was a myth. I also learned that Native Americans would have annual pilgrimages to the lake for Vision Quests. They believed that they would discover the answer to all of life’s questions by looking deep into the blue water.
I did not have a epiphany while staring into the water. Instead, I was busy keeping the baby from climbing the safety walls and the big kids from trying to touch the ground squirrels (oh my. they were just too cute).
but I felt different. I was acutely aware that I was in a naturally made location that had been this way for hundreds and hundreds of years. I loved that I was able to see the lake with fresh eyes the way the Native Americans or the original pioneers must have (which is difficult in this day and age, since we have Google Earth!).
I loved being in the moment, pausing, and realizing that my two older kids will remember this trip. They’ll remember driving the 30-mile perimeter, and rolling their eyes every time Daddy pulled over to take “just one more picture.” They’ll remember how their mean old mom banned the Nintendo DS for the day. They’ll remember sitting in the squeaky chairs while watching the long and boring movie, and I’ll remember marveling at how well-behaved they were during the long and boring movie.
They’ll definitely remember the ice cream bar. Ice cream is always remembered.
Everyone’s Vision Quest, or life’s purpose is different, and I’d venture to guess it changes pretty often– depending on your age, your choices, and probably the seasons. The revelation comes when you have this startling deep down feeling that you are doing exactly what it is you are *supposed* to be doing.
and again, this is different for every person. It could be being the best darn teacher, or bank teller, or caregiver, or amusement park ride operator ever. It could be any number of things—- IT is relative. But when you’ve found the IT, you’ll know it.
and it will take your breath away.