Friday, January 28, 2011

Physics of the Quest…to Know Oneself

A few nights ago, after one too many glasses of wine, I found myself watching Eat, Pray, Love the movie starring Julia Roberts based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert. I read Eat, Pray, Love years ago before it was the phenomenon it is today. I read it before Oprah and even before my book group. I remember picking it up intrigued by the similarities of life between Elizabeth and myself. I was searching in my life. My marriage wasn't working, I wasn't working, something wasn't right in my world and I couldn't quite verbalize the reason for the topple off the axis. I have read the book twice and it is a much better than the movie, sorry Julia.

But there's one phrase at the end of the book and the movie that always has the power to grab me by the shoulders and shake me.

"I've come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call 'The Physics of The Quest' -- a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum.  And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: 'If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared - most of all - to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself... then truth will not be withheld from you.'  Or so I've come to believe.  I can't help but believe it, given my experience."

When I first read this and even the second time I read this I was still planted in my comfortable world with a nice house, a husband that was trying to make me happy and a job I was crazy to even consider leaving. And it wasn't working…. And so I left physically, emotionally, mentally I left.

Today I'm in the middle of this quest. I have experienced more discomfort than I thought possible not in the just the physical sense, although the broken collarbone is not on my list of repeat performances in the foreseeable future. I left behind resentments, bitterness, fear. I left behind the person I had become hardened by the realities of a life lived outside my girlhood dreams. I had to face the reality that I had not been the best daughter, friend and wife. I have seen the truth about whom I was, who I had become and it was not who I wanted to be. I had to forgive myself and others. I had to receive forgiveness from myself and others. I used to say I was a spiritual but not religious person. Today I am both. Today although still a work in progress, there is progress and that makes me happy.

When I heard this phrase spoken in the movie I tried to write it down so I could remember it. When I couldn't get it all, I googled…duh?! When I googled "Physics of the Quest" one of the first links that came up was for the blog of Chelsea Grieger, a young girl from Pella, Iowa. This was no coincidence of fate. Chelsea, a young girl from Iowa, blogs about her desire to see the world, to venture outside the box. Chelsea is me 25 years ago. I was the girl from Kansas with pictures of giraffe on her "goal" board. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be in Africa. Perhaps it's a small town Midwest thing. Girls like Chelsea and I are, were, in the minority and it is not easy to go against the grain in a culture that is based on staying close to home. I never wanted to be the soccer mom, with the 2.6 kids and the mini van. Not that there's anything wrong with it, it just wasn't for me. I wanted to be doing exactly what I am doing, living abroad and seeing the world. I like Chelsea, she's got spunk. I was going to use the word "chutzpah" but then according to the definition on Wikipedia "chutzpah" is:

""gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible 'guts,' presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to." In this sense, chutzpah expresses both strong disapproval and a grudging admiration."

Good or bad "chutzpah" describes me.

I recently was blindsided by some criticism by someone I have known only a very short time. Someone who gave me some very positive, feel the love props and then when I least expected a significant shot to the heart. I guess it was my "chutzpah". I take everything to heart though and I will try to see myself through his eyes. I just wish he would have had the kahunas to say it to my face. That's the disappointing part. That I will never agree with.

I am reading another great work of fiction by Paulo Coehlo, The Witch of Portobello. He is the author of The Alchemist. The premise of the book is that it is written about a woman through the eyes of the people around her. The author "interviews" these people to tell the story of Athena. In the prologue Coehlo states, "I saw that things are never absolute; they depend on each individual's perceptions. And the best way to know who we are is often to find out how others see us."

So, I am going to lay it out there for all who read this blog for whatever reason and however they do or don't know me. My girl Chelsea did an interesting challenge recently, "30 Days of Me". I'm going to embark on the same challenge for a couple of reasons. First, I want to make a date and KEEP a date for writing. I love to write and want to share more but life tends to get in the way. Can I really do this for 30 days? Secondly, I want you readers I know, readers I don't to respond however they want to how I see myself. Perhaps what I see really isn't their perception and their perception is their reality. I am opening up the blog to comments. Now, that being said, if "Stalker Woman" (see June/July 2010) returns I will unfortunately have to censor. Hopefully that will not be the case.

Starting tomorrow these are my 30 Days of Me Challenge:

day 1- Recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself
day 2- The meaning behind your blog name
day 3- A picture of you and your friends
day 4- A habit you wish you didn't have
day 5- A picture of somewhere you've been
day 6- Favorite superhero and why
day 7- A picture of someone/something that has the biggest impact on you
day 8- Short term goals for this month and why
day 9- Something you're proud of in the past few days
day 10- Songs you listen to when you are happy, sad, bored, hyped, mad
day 11- Another picture of you and your friends
day 12- How you found out about blogger and why you have one
day 13- A book you are reading now and why you like it
day 14- A picture of you and your family
day 15- Put you iPod on shuffle...first 10 songs that play
day 16- Another picture of yourself
day 17- Someone you would want to switch lives with for one day and why
day 18- Plans/dreams/goals you have
day 19- Nicknames you have and why you have them
day 20- Someone you see yourself marrying or being with in the future
day 21- A picture of something that makes you happy
day 22- What makes you different from everyone else
day 23- Something you crave for a lot
day 24- Give a bucket list
day 25- What I would find in your bag
day 26- What do you think about your friends
day 27- A page of favorites
day 28- A picture of you from last year and have you changed since then
day 29- In this past month what have you learned
day 30- Why did you decide to do this challenge

"…we are not meant for solitude, and we only know ourselves when we see ourselves in the eyes of others."



  1. Hi Kimberly!

    I just saw your comment for the first time (I don't really keep track since I don't get an email about it)! I'm so glad that you like my blog...and that your wrote a post about it!

    Thank you for following! The 30 day challenge was tough for me, so I'm glad that someone else gets to get some use out of it as well.

    I'm a little shocked, to say the least. I really didn't think anyone actually read my blog besides my family and friends! It's good to know that there are other women out there following a dream. Africa sounds amazing! I have never been, but it is on a to-do list. I don't know if I will ever make it there, but I might as well try, right?

    Good luck on your quest...
    Chelsea Grieger :)

  2. Hi there!
    Do you happen to know what page the quest physics quote is on in the book

  3. I find it really ironic that you found Chelsea's blog by googling that phrase, because i found your blog by goofling the physics of the quest too. I am also a blogger and I recently decided to write something abouth the 'physics of the quest' after quoting it for a friend recently. I will probably be doing the challenge though, thanks for sharing it.

    1. also forgive the spelling errors just saw them ":)

    2. Years later after the post I too am finding your blog by that same Google search 😊

    3. Years later after the post I too am finding your blog by that same Google search 😊

  4. I also found your blog through googling "the Physics of the Quest"! The universe works in mysterious ways. Thank you for your blog post. It gave me the courage to post about my own introspection into the phrase. I love the 30 days idea, and I hope you are well on your quest.