Go as a pilgrim and seek out danger
far from the comfort
and the well lit avenues of life.
Pit your every soul against the unknown
and seek stimulation in the comfort of the brave.
Experience cold, hunger, heat and thirst
and survive to see
and another dawn.
Only then will you be at peace
and be able to know and to say;
“I look down the farthest side of the mountain,
fulfilled and understanding all,
and truly content that
I lived a full life and one
that was my own choice”
– James Elroy Flecker from the poem play ‘Hassan’
As I prepare to spend my January doing ostensibly silly things in the name of Micro Adventure (as part of my campaign to convince young people that adventure is all around us and that there really is no excuse not to go find some) I paused briefly to wonder whether my days might not be more usefully spent.
My gut feeling is that the nights under canvas, the days of hunger and fatigue, the wind and rain on my face provide a huge, if intangible benefit to my life. I feel that they allow me to grow, to improve and to learn – even though there is no classroom nor teacher involved.
But gut feelings are hard to quantify. Far easier to measure are overdrafts, website hits, book sales, sponsorship interest and speaking engagements. The temptation then is to spend my days between major expeditions working hard at the computer or being out on the road speaking to audiences.
So I am always happy to turn to my bookshelves, to seek reassurance from the words of others. Here then are a couple of paragraphs that seem to reinforce my hunch that the days and weeks spent on micro adventures are not wasted:
“Adventurous experiences out of doors are perceived to kindle the enthusiasm of the young, to develop their concern for others, for their community and for the environment. Such experiences are at once both stimulating and fulfilling.
It thus emerges that, for young people and adults alike, outdoor adventure is perceived as a vehicle for building values and ideals, for developing creativity and enterprise, for enhancing a sense of citizenship and for widening physical and spiritual horizons.”
– Lord Hunt of Llanfair Waterdine
“We who have the habit of climbing mountains know just how far superior to brute force is the will to persevere and attain a specific goal. We know that every height that is attained, every step that is taken is the product of patient and difficult effort and that desire is no substitute for them. A great many difficulties will arise, a great many obstacles will have to be overcome and avoided, but for us the will to do something is the ability to do it.
Educated at this rough school, we return to everyday occupation stronger and better prepared to face the obstacles along the road of life. We are made strong and serene by the memory of duties performed and victories won on the other fields of battle.”
– Edward Whymper