But aren’t all great quests folly? El Dorado and the Fountain of Youth and the search for intelligent life in the cosmos—we know what’s out there. It’s what isn’t that truly compels us. Technology may have shrunk the epic journey to a couple of short car rides and regional jet lags—four states and twelve hundred miles traversed in an afternoon—but true quests aren’t measured in time or distance anyway, so much as in hope. There are only two good outcomes for a quest like this, the hope of the serendipitous savant—sail for Asia and stumble on America—and the hope of scarecrows and tin men: that you find out you had the thing you sought all along.
Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins.