Quo Vadis? It’s a Latin phrase that may or may not be familiar. It’s meaning: Where are you going?
This is a question I have asked myself a lot over the course of my life. When there are important decisions to be made, I try to visualize each path that may be presented to me. There have been plenty of times when there are several roads that lay ahead that would lead me on positive journeys. There have been bumpy, broken paths that offered both an opportunity for success and risk.
The first time I heard this phrase, it was spoken by a spiritual leader (Bradley Foster). He often spoke about having a vision of life; a personal ideology rooted both in investigation, knowledge, personal experience and foresight. It never focused on the past, but on what lay ahead.
In the apocryphal Acts of Peter (Vercelli Acts XXXV), Peter – ‘The Rock’ and disciple of Christ – is fleeing Jerusalem and the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. Peter is trying to escape his past. He meets the risen Lord and asks (in the Latin translation), “Quo Vadis?”. The answer was that Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, giving Peter the courage to evaluate his personal mission: continuing his ministry.
The words and what they suggested helped guide me in both times of trouble and happiness. “Quo Vadis” helped me form my personal motto: Just keep moving.
Writing has always been a form of release for me, but it has been motivated by a strong desire to keep my focus on what matters most to me and a desire to keep moving forward despite my past experiences.
Many writers speak of catharsis (from Greek κάθαρσις katharsis meaning “purification” or “cleansing”) and how the act of creating textual expression both purifies and purges emotion through art. A metaphor, catharsis can be an extreme change in emotion that results in restoration and renewal; a way forward after distress, frustration, fear or even tragedy. It is a force that focuses their vision on what lay ahead.
Writing, for some is a natural gift. Others struggle to produce a final draft while battling doubts, insecurities and even fear of failure. Any writer can tell you that the sharing of pieces of their souls – and written words are a piece of the author – can be daunting with the promise of both reward and potential letdown.
I have written the beginning of so many stories outside of journalism pieces that called for internal fortitude and the hope of some valuable substance. Most were never shared. I lost the vision of their potential and possibilities.
Recently, I reconnected with Brad’s wife, Sharol, on social media after two decades of no communication. This chance encounter reminded me of two things: first, that life has moved on and second, that the inspiring phrase, “Quo Vadis”, had become a driving force in nearly every pursuit in my life.
I admittedly do not always have a plan and even the best plans have not met my expectations. I believe part of the message of this simple Latin question was this: how will I draw strength from mistakes or disappointment to keep my eyes scanning the horizon instead of locking onto obstacles in my path. Can I keep moving?
I love a challenge and 80 percent of my writing has not always produced earth-shattering insights that moved others or entertained. It has involved great risk. But, I have discovered it has helped me navigate rough terrain in order to grow.
I ask you, “where are YOU going?” Perhaps you aren’t sure. Maybe you feel uncertain. I encourage you to consider the simple message to just keep moving. Keep trying, especially you other writers. Put aside bad reviews, doubtful readers, detractors and emotions that may cause you to stall. Take a chance and one step at a time you will find yourself on a journey. What you choose to focus on will hold your focus until you look forward to what may be, what could be. Learn to ask yourself where you are going, and if your current path isn’t where you want to be or thought you’d be, look forward to the roads ahead. Climb your personal mountains and you may be pleasantly surprised that the journey itself was a great reward.