From W. H. Auden, in The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue, comes a reminder to those embarking on a quest for new opportunities: Before you set out on your long, perilous journey, look down where you stand, and remember it as you venture forth.
For the new locus is never
Hidden inside the old one
Where Reason could rout it out,
Nor guarded by dragons in distant
Mountains where Imagination
Could explore it; the place of birth
Is too obvious and near to notice,
Some dull dogpatch a stone’s throw
Outside the walls, reserved
For the eyes of faith to find.
Pilgrimages of research in pursuit of a purchase on deeper meaning are worthwhile, but often they lead us right back where we started, with no new power to conquer exotic territories, but the insight required to occupy the land we already hold more deeply.
The treasure we seek is not held within some immense data mine far away. Deep qualitative research is not conducted for the sake of simple observation of patterns that can be construed through reason, but in order to learn to see the old locus with new eyes, capable of piercing through the surface that data can provide.