Living adventurously changes with time
Everyone’s definition of living adventurously is unique. I love that. It could be crossing a desert or cross-dressing, running a marathon or running a non-profit.Not only that, our own answers change over time. When I first got a taste for adventure as a teenager, it was simply for the fun of it. Climbing hills and looking around at the view, leaning hard in a heeling dinghy. These things are enjoyable. We should not make the mistake of seeing fun as flippant or something to save for the weekend. The world would be a better place with more fun in it.By the time I was in my 20s, however, my relationship with adventure had changed. ‘It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun’ was my mantra. Miles not smiles. Adventure became about the challenge. Pushing my body. Striving to be tough. Seeking an identity. Exploring what I was capable of. I was fortunate to have a comfortable, happy upbringing. So adventure served as the grit in my oyster. It helped toughen me up and taught me to appreciate things I habitually took for granted. Adventure gave me the momentum to try to do something interesting with my life.After that came curiosity. I wonder if it’s possible to hitch a lift on a yacht across the Atlantic? Could I run an ultramarathon in the Sahara? What happens if I don’t stop when my body tells me to stop? The answers were exciting. I began to see the stars rather than the mud when I looked out of the window.The trouble with learning to think this way, however, is that it becomes hard to remain satisfied with the ordinary. Pandora’s box had been flung open.I began to realise that if I wished to continue chasing adventure, then just repeating the same types of expedition was not the way to go. Sure, I could do things on a more epic level, push myself harder and take more risks. But a dog will never catch its tail, and Sisyphus never gets to sit down, have a nice cup of tea and feel the satisfaction of completion. And so my motivation changed again. Still drawn to scaring myself and trying new things, I began learning the violin. I decided to walk through Spain, busking to survive. The idea frightened me, amused me, challenged me and intrigued me: I was living adventurously once again.These days adventure needs to fit in around the happy chaos of raising a family. Whenever routine winds me up and grinds me down, wears me out and keeps me in, I am aware enough of the symptoms to bust out briefly and press reset.So I cycle to the sea or climb a tree. I carve out occasional free days to run in the hills of the Lake District by driving through the night (once my children are in bed) in time to greet the sunrise in the uplands. I sleep on starry hilltops rather than soulless hotels the night before speaking at conferences.On the way to a talk in the Netherlands recently, I persuaded my taxi driver to join me in jumping off a bridge into the canal with the local kids. He thought I was mad but never stopped laughing afterwards.These ‘microadventures’ are how I keep the embers of my big, selfish, carefree adventure dreams aglow amidst the busy-ness of everyday life. I do what I can, when I can, where I am. What more can we do than that? Adventure has evolved from fun to machismo to curiosity to scaring myself to seizing the moment.
I have laid all this out to help you relax about any decisions you take about changing something in your life. They are important choices, and they are urgent, but they are not binding. You once yearned for Spiderman pyjamas, didn’t you? The peak of your ambition was once to wheelie down the street. (OK, some things never change – bad examples.) I hope this reassures you that whatever definition and direction you plump for today is unlikely to be your path for the rest of your life. You don’t have to stress that you’ll be shackled to it forever.This choice or that choice could both be the right one if they lead to opportunities for you to pursue a more adventurous, rewarding, fulfilling life. Make the best decision you can with the knowledge that you have then stick to it until you can make a better decision. You do not have an accurate idea of who you will be twenty years down the line. This is epitomised by the existence of tattoo removal services. It is a mistake to defer living adventurously until you are clear about a masterplan or until the time is perfect. Neither exists. There is an old Chinese saying that ‘the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’I might get that done as a tattoo.
OVER TO YOU:
– What did ‘living adventurously’ mean to you ten years ago?- What does it mean today?- If you continue living the way you are, where will it put you ten years from now? Is that a place you want to be?
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