Sitting back in my apartment, coffee cup in hand and the sounds of wildlife outside my window, I placed down my worn-out copy of Moby Dick. I had finally finished this behemoth of a book, which I began when I graduated college. Marked inside the front cover was a congratulatory note from a close friend, followed by: “While you may never find your White Whale, I hope you enjoy the chase…”
My recent move across the country, in fact, is part of my own chase for this White Whale. Bluer skies, greener shores, a better-paying job that I can see myself doing for more than twelve months. It seems like a quest with no end.
Like the insatiable Captain Ahab in Herman Melville’s book, The White Whale, we are all chasing our own forms of perfection. Naturally, a corporate CEO’s wants and desires would differ widely from that of a single, working mother; however, this ongoing quest dictates much of our lives. We are all there, on the ship Pequod, catching a glimpse of Moby Dick’s pearly-white skin as it descends into the depths, beyond our piercing gaze.
Entire social networks have sprung up to satiate our cravings. Elissa Altman hit the nail on the head in her entry on Zester Daily; by filtering through thousands upon thousands of fashion, food and nature boards on Pinterest, you see the cravings and chasings of millions. Currently, simple living is enormously trendy. Many want to leave the hustle and bustle of life, surround themselves with mono-chromaticism, wear simple clothes and eat simple, good food on unadorned, natural dinnerware. Scrolling through a few pages of these pins, and you scroll through the aching emptiness of thousands.
What do we give up by giving into such continual longing? By forever searching the horizon for our White Whale?
Like Ahab, we stand to lose much if we give ourselves wholly to our quest. We will likely drive off many of our friends and colleagues; those who stay with us, even, will stand back and shake their heads in bewilderment. We sacrifice, also, our own sanity. Maybe we won’t go on long, archaic soliloquies, but forgetting to live in the present can be dangerous for our own well being.
And that is exactly what happens when we forsake all to chase the Whale: our ability to live in the present. To enjoy the moment we are living in and the sights, sounds and people we meet along the way.
Chasing the White Whale is not a bad thing, in and of itself. We all have dreams that we are chasing and goals we aspire to. But when we allow these dreams to become greater and bigger than our surroundings; when we forsake everything, even ourselves, in chasing a larger-than-life dream – that is when it becomes dangerous. There are many things that we must put aside in order to chase our White Whale, but we must also be real about those things and their consequences. And, unlike Ahab, must take joy in the journey. The quest is the true story and struggle of The White Whale.