Tim Keller defines an adventure as “there and back again.” In The Hobbit, Bilbo left the Shire on a journey, and in the end returned to the serenity of his Hobbit hole. This is an adventure; one goes on an expedition and then returns home safe and sound. A quest, on the other hand, comes to you. “In a quest you either die for the quest, or if you do come back you’re so changed that you never, in a sense, really come back. You’re never the way you were.” In the Tolkien legendarium, this defines the journey of Frodo and his quest to destroy The Ring.
Though I do not carry a burden as heavy as the Ring, I consider my life to be more of a quest than an adventure. When I left for my first year at Messiah, I became homeless by choice. I left the place I called home for so long to define home for myself. Paulo Coehlo would say that I am in search of my “Personal Legend,” my spiritual purpose that makes me a part of something greater than myself. In Coehlo’s novel, The Alchemist, a shepherd boy named Santiago leaves his home in Spain on a quest to find treasure at the pyramids of Egypt. In the end, he found himself returning to his home because that was where his heart called him. The Alchemist is intended to be allegorical for pursuing dreams, but also relates specifically to the purpose of college. Students spend a period of time “homeless,” only to return home and realize that they needed to leave their physical home to find an internal home.
Not unlike Frodo and Santiago, I intend to find home by leaving home. Frodo became a part of something greater than the Shire – the Fellowship – and Santiago discovered his Personal Legend by trusting that “when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I cannot call Messiah home because I recognize that I am here temporarily. I cannot call the house of my childhood home anymore because I have found my Personal Legend elsewhere. For now, my life is a quest of searching for a place to call home, the place where my heart is. In The Alchemist, Santiago’s quest teaches him the truth of Matthew 6:21: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. When Santiago discovered that the treasure was his Personal Legend, his internal home led him to his physical home in Spain. Fortunately, in this life, you can choose your home. You get to choose your own fairy tale.