"my sword i give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it." the english christian allegorist john bunyan wrote that in his famous inspirational text, the pilgrim's progress in 1678. certainly i found it inspiring. many was the night as a child when i read it furtively by flashlight under the bed covers when my parents were expecting me to be asleep. the idea of a pilgrimage-starting from your own front door, moving through all sorts of obstacles, delusions, and terrors, always confronted with danger yet somehow always protected, then finally arriving at the majestic heavenly city-this was too irresistibly intriguing to pass over in favor of mundane sleep. sleep! i didn't want to sleep; i wanted to wake up, get some answers, understand a few things, solve a certain mystery that wouldn't go away, even at that supposedly innocent age. what is my life all about?