In Search of a Course recounts the events of a fateful road-trip through the American Southwest. When Mark Cladis embarks, he is spiritually lost, shaken by a failed marriage, and disillusioned by the academic life he has chosen. When his spiritual foundation gives way, he is wholly unprepared to rebuild it. He needs guidance—and not the academic or intellectual sort. He needs open air, a change of scene, a friendship, and an education. This is how Paul Kane and Mark Cladis, two Vassar professors, find themselves on a road-trip through the Southwest desert. During the trip, Cladis encounters several teachers—Native American educators, local artists, Paul, and the desert itself—who inspire revelations about the land, education, friendship, and the ways of love. Cladis returns considerably healed, spiritually revived, and possessed of a new hope for his life and vocation.
On this journey, equally thrilling and healing, he encounters dangers and seeming miracles. He climbs mountains and sits on Hogan floors and dodges dust devils, barely. He learns that Paul, his closest friend, would risk his life for him. From these experiences he receives a distinct feeling of belonging—to the earth, to a spiritual and intellectual ancestry, to a friendship. He begins to see this spiritual, embodied connection as innately tied to teaching, to environmental commitment, and to love. It initiates his deliverance from grief. It becomes the most important gift he could impart to his students.