One of the earliest driving forces in pushing me into expeditions was the urge to challenge myself. I wanted to discover what I was capable of enduring, to measure my strength by seeking my breaking point. To build my self-confidence through knowing how much I could tolerate.
Even before I went on my first big trips I began testing myself with, frankly, idiotic personal challenges. I have grown out of most of these (running as fast as I can until I vomit; sleeping on 3rd floor window ledges). But one remains as a perennial winter favourite for me. The challenge is simple: how long can I tolerate driving down the motorway, in winter, with all the windows down. It’s bitingly cold, bracingly stupid, but brilliantly life-affirming. The wild rumpus of a 70mph gale thrashes around the car, its thumping noise competing against the full-volume music. I whoop and grit my teeth and bear the cold for as long as I can. And, when I crack, winding all the windows back up again, I shiver and grin as stillness and warmth fill the car.
Perhaps this is a mini version of a microadventure? All the ingredients of a major challenge are there: it’s hard, it’s daft, the contest is only with oneself, and the reward at the end is small and trivial and yet satisfyingly sufficient.
Adventure is out there, everywhere. Even barrelling down the motorway, late at night, homeward bound after an evening speaking event.
Writing this post reminded me of this fantastic little video, about the games we play when nobody is watching: