Words That Inspire - The Book of the Vision Quest: Personal Transformation in the Wilderness by Steven Foster
"Many years ago, haunted by guilt, pursued by images of freedom, persistently, relentlessly believing that I had to acquire experiences at the risk of all, I left my vocation of college teaching and went into the world. Though I lived with great appetite, and seemed, even to myself, suicidally bent on my own destruction or the destruction of anyone who loved me, I found myself drawn into the land of my father's childhood and early manhood: the vast stretches of loneliness called Nevada, and the remote, desolate regions of the desert called Mojave.
I went into the desert alone, not knowing why, searching for something I had lost, or could find: something, someone, some revelation waiting for me at the bend of the dry river bed, some face-to-face encounter with what I feared, and desired, most.
At the time I did not realize I was seeking death. That is, I was not seeking to die, but to reap the fruit of death, to reenter the womb of things, the matrix of unknowing, and to be born anew, severed from old distinctions and limitations, to induce, by sheer force of will, self-transformation.
But self-transformation is a gradual, painstaking process won at the expense of joy and sorrow, or so it has been for me. Nevertheless, certain power events, or growth events, blaze out from the background of my life. These events mark the juncture at which my restless heart touched the timeless, transforming heart of the universe. The year I spent in the desert was filled with many such events.
Was it because my mother had told me I had been conceived at Shadow Mountain, within view of the mountains of Death Valley, that I went into the desert? Was it because my childhood had been steeped in the stories of the Old Testament, the tales of the desert prophets, Moses, Isaiah, Elijah? Was it because, even when I was very small, I felt a deep affinity with the spirit of the desert? Something lured me. I responded with instinctive faith in a feeling that quickened me to the core, a shuddering, shivering, passionate feeling.
I packed an old VW bus with a few essentials, said goodbye to my children, my friends, and my life, and drove away. I headed east toward Reno, gateway to the far-flung deserts of the Great Basin. I came back, eventually, to pick up the threads of my "civilized" life, a life that had changed because I had changed."