These questions are raw and unrefined, like good honey. They are just a starting point and are simply meant to encourage good conversation among friends.
1. Eddy is fond of the word perspicacious, but is afraid that if he uses it he’ll sound like a pompous ass. It means to have a ready insight and understanding of things. Could you relate to any of his moments of perspicacity? A world that was once a jumble of confusion for him suddenly became clear. In one scene, for example, he speaks of being able to see in color for the first time. Has this ever happened to you? Are you in a time of perspicacity or confusion now? How can you pursue perspicacity?
2. Relating to the question above, Eddy feels strongly that reducing life to its simplest terms can pay whopping dividends. However, it was relatively easy for him to make a snap decision to leave school and everything else he knew behind, while retreating to the wilderness for reflection. Is it possible to contextualize this to a busy family life that is replete with responsibility? How?
3. The author is a big fan of writing letters and dropping them in the mail. Do you ever do this? Has his story inspired you to put pen to paper and apply stamp to envelope? Why the heck not?
4. Another theme of the book is the importance of both solitude and meaningful relationships. Are you finding ways to cultivate both?
5. Were you inspired to spend more time in the great outdoors? Why or why not? What is realistic for you and your family?
6. Here’s a weird question, but one that is pregnant with opportunity for discussion. What are your thoughts on education? Eddy claims to have learned more about the world during his break from college than during all the years of education that preceded it. Mere hyperbole?
7. Which part of the book did you enjoy more? Part 1 or 2?
8. Has there been a time in your life that you look back upon as being a spiritual quest or pilgrimage? Did it provide lasting benefits and shape you in any way? Do tell!
9. Were you able to relate to Eddy’s crushing loneliness and despair relayed in “Lost?”
10. Eddy loves the Andy chapter. Did it affect you in any way? Is your family in a place to be able to positively influence a child like this? Eddy refers to Andy’s family as the greatest gift of his childhood.
11. Are you able to just be quiet?
12. Have you ever just read quietly in the same room as a good friend? This is one of the author’s favorite activities, but it can be hard to find opportunities.
13. Discuss the role of journeying in a quest or pilgrimage. The author believes in finding “joy in the journey,” and not focusing so much on the destination. Also, can one embark upon a quest by simply staying put?
14. While completing this book, the author was astonished to discover how many of his passions are in an inverse relationship with the realities of his past. For the first time in his life, this realization has enabled him to be grateful for his difficult childhood. For example:
a) A fear of riding in a car as a passenger, and that feeling of helplessness have remained with him. Eddy is unable to ride along effectively as a passenger to this day. He pretty much hates riding around in a car, so he attempts to structure life in such a way that automobile use is minimized by relying on the bike to frequent local businesses, and also walking to where he needs to go. He feels this makes for a happier and healthier life for his family.
b) Horrible food in his past has caused him to relish good food. An appreciation for lovingly prepared meals will remain as a lifelong obsession.
c) Hospitality in the context of the home. WOW. This is something else he’ll never take for granted. Places to comfortably sit are amazing! (And real plates to eat on)
d) The need to be in relationships versus the crushing loneliness he endured caused him to become intensely loyal to his friends, and not take them for granted.
e) Reading, writing, time for reflection, etc, instead of remaining glued to the television.
f) Exploring the outdoors, alone when necessary, versus remaining inside all day.
g) Childlike wonder….
So, in essence, Eddy is thankful that he seems to be able to more fully appreciate simple things in life that others take for granted, and thus do not give them their proper place in life. Oftentimes people don’t learn to appreciate the beauty of these simple things that provide meaning until it’s too late.
Therefore, Eddy has learned to delight in the multitude of contrasts between his current life and his previous life. He finds this to be far more beneficial than dwelling on regrets and pain. Can you relate to this at all? Is there anybody in your life who has been unable to move on from a difficult past?