I stepped out onto the tarmac, the air quivering above the road in the heat of the Spanish summer. There were no cars, and any sound there might have been was made leaden by the sultry hotness and sank down, defeated. I was alone on a road in the middle of nowhere, mediterranean pampa stretching to the horizon in all directions, and in the stillness of that moment I felt a joy beyond anything I had ever known.
When I was little, I had lots of adventures. Almost every day, at least once a week. They were admittedly, in the eyes of an adult, very small adventures, but adventures nonetheless. Sometimes, they consisted of venturing into a new bit of forest in case the ancient tree we passed was actually a magical portal to fairyland; sometimes going on a recon mission in the dead of night to explore a house that was halfway built; sometimes climbing
trees the masts of pirate ships, to spy the enemy and make a plan of attack. Usually these adventures involved a generous serving of imagination, but the crucial elements were there.
Why adventure? Toad of Toad Hall says it nicely: “The open road, the dusty highway, the heath, the common, the hedgerows, the rolling downs! Camps, villages, towns, cities! Here to-day, up and off to somewhere else to-morrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing!”. Excitement and change; most people would probably say they like the former, but not everyone likes the latter – and change is a crucial aspect of adventure. If you know what’s going to happen, or if you stay in one place, it’s not an adventure. If there’s nothing that takes you out of your comfort zone, that requires a leap of faith, it’s not an adventure. Adventure, according to its dictionary definition, is “a risky or unexpected undertaking; an unusual or exciting experience”.
Most adventurers share certain ‘adventurer characteristics’; a restlessness, often referred to as ‘itchy feet’, an impatient desire to know what lies beyond the horizon, the feeling that the environment you know cannot possibly be all there is, the longing for change, for newness, for a different smell in the air. But as Drew Jacob mentions, adventurers also often share a higher aim; a quest to find answers. Answers about themselves, about life, about meaning, about purpose. And that makes sense, because adventure stretches you. It stretches your definition of who you thought you were, of what you thought you could do, of what you thought was true.
As we grow older, and conventional life takes its toll, we have fewer and fewer adventures. This is very sad. Adventure invariably makes us thrive, no matter how terrified we are before we set off (perhaps one could even say that the amount of thriving is proportionate to the amount of pre-adventure terror?!). The solution? GET THE HELL OUT OF CONVENTIONAL LIFE. Unless of course, you like boring. There are an increasing number of world-changers who are out there writing textbooks on how to do this (Chris Guillebeau, Jonanthan Mead and Sean Ogle to name but a few), giving hope to the likes of myself (currently still stuck in cubicledom), and proving that a life of adventure is possible.
“Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid” – Basil King
Why adventure? Life is short. Going out and colliding with the world head-on is the best way to embrace life, to refuse your fears their victory, and to let it be said that you lived well, and had many stories to tell. Go forth, and L I V E.