For most of us, the answer to the question,” Do you want a life full of adventure?” would be an immediate and resounding “Yes!” And yet when we look at our life as it is, we see simply that, our life.
So we start looking into other people’s lives and their adventures. They seem to always be flying off to foreign countries, rafting down white water, climbing mountains or leaving a great job at Google or Facebook to sail around the world. We dream of having the money or the time or maybe just the courage to do these very things. But so far, it hasn’t happened.
But are these things really all that it means to live a life of adventure? Yes going on safari, climbing a mountain, and skydiving is exciting– but starting down the path of adventure begins long before we take that first jump out of the plane. It requires that we live a life that embraces adventure in all temporal directions. Our past, our present, and our future.
Adventure is How We See the World
When we are kids, everything seemed like an adventure. The world was big and just climbing the monkey bars on the playground was the adventure of a lifetime. But as we grow, our perspective shifts and we lose our wonder. We start to view daily challenges as negative events. The monkey bars become just one more struggle to overcome. We look back on our lives and see only the mundane.
But if you really want to start living a life of adventure, you have to begin seeing the adventure in every single day. A few weeks ago I was in the city meeting a friend when my shoe broke. I was left in the middle of the city, with one shoe and an impending rain storm! As I turned a corner, I ran into another friend who loaned me a pair of shoes that barely fit and I put them on just as it began to pour rain.
For many, this would have been a horrible day of broken shoes and walking through a storm without an umbrella. But for me, it was a wonderful adventure. After all, I had a friend who was nice enough to loan me shoes, my body is strong and capable and the rain was refreshing. I was soaked and slimy by the time I met a friend for a drink later, but I was happy and excited! What an adventure, running through the rain in a beautiful city like Washington, DC in borrowed shoes.
This attitude of looking for adventure is the first step toward living an adventurous life. Are you able to find adventure in the present moment?
Adventure is About Overcoming
Human beings don’t gain self-confidence by sitting around and watching others have adventures. We each have in our minds the experiences that scare us and push us outside our comfort zone. There can be very practical reasons like time and money that hold us back, but in my experience, these practical considerations can usually be worked out with the right motivation and preparation.
They are usually a defensive response to other, less concrete barriers, like the belief that other people get to have those experiences, not me. Or, more likely, fear that you won’t be able to handle the struggle, discomfort and fear that are the most solid companions of every adventure. Things aren’t called adventure because they are comfortable and peaceful. Adventure is about experiencing difficulty and challenge and coming out the other side stronger and exhilarated. Pushing against our fears and boundaries can be the most exciting adventure of all.
About a year ago, I found myself standing at the top of a waterfall in Maui, staring down into the pool below and knew I had to jump. That moment of fear and excitement was preceded by a long uncomfortable flight, a three hour hike through muddy jungle, and a rope climb up a rock wall. But all of that was worth it once I ran off the edge. The struggle to get there is what made it even more amazing. Because adventure is about overcoming.
Stop listening to other people’s stories about adventure or stalking their adventures on Instagram and Facebook, and start living your own. Rethink the stories from the past that were actually adventures, look for the adventures in today and plan for the next great adventure in your future. Do you want to travel? Go back to school? Work in a foreign country? Climb a mountain or run a marathon?
Know that you are already an adventurer and the next set of monkey bars are calling your name.