AdventurePosted: January 22, 2012
I was recently asked to speak at the Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles about adventure. I had visited the club several months before after being asked to speak. Between my visit and my scheduled night to speak I had a lot of time to think about what I would say. The earlier visit with this interesting group brought something to my attention that I had not thought about much. Do you need a reason to justify adventure? Do you need to have a justification for being adventurous or pursuing adventure beyond the adventure itself?
Over the last decade, I have noticed a trend toward a feeling from adventurers that they need other reasons for pursuing what they do. The press, public, funding institutions, and even the explorers themselves seem to have a growing pressure and feeling that there needs to be additional reasons for pursuing adventure or setting out on expedition. There needs to be some scientific angle or educational component or media tie in or all of the these and more. If not, somehow the effort is less valid.
I asked the assembled group at the Adventurers’ Club this question. Does there need to be a reason? Their answer was because it is there. A rather famous line from a more than famous explorer. But, it is not an answer that seems to meet the current expectation of the public and the press or even most explorers.
I think this creates a problem. It implies that somehow adventure is not valid or somehow a selfish act if it is not connected to something outside of the adventurer.
When did adventure for adventure sake lose its luster and it validity?
There was a time when it was considered a high pursuit. In fact, for most of our history because it was there was the primary reason for adventure. In some ways this has almost become a dirty word. The sad thing is that it also changes the mindset of all of us about adventure. That somehow you have to be involved in a big effort with funding and production crew attached to participate in adventure. It takes adventure out of the hands of each of us and into the hands of an exclusive few. It leads us to believe that adventure is only in the biggest of expeditions or projects.
Adventure never changed, it is our perception of it that has. Adventure is everywhere and can be in the smallest of events. Even in a moment. Adventure is a very personal thing. The biggest part of any adventure is where we travel in ourselves and the way that experience transforms us. There is no event that is not worthy of being called an adventure. It is up to the individual to decide if they have had one or not and to pay attention and experience it.
More importantly, if we allow adventure to escape our personal experiences and become the exclusive domain of big well funded projects and expeditions only seen on television, we believe we cannot have adventure in the most simple of moments. Adventure can be big or small, just as the transformations that come from them. Even worse, if we allow ourselves to believe that adventure is not everywhere, we forget to pay attention and look for it in what we consider the mundane.
Going to the market can be an adventure. Not all adventures are necessarily good ones. LOL But, seriously, if we forget we all can be adventurers, we live a less fulfilling life. Adventure is a choice and about making a choice to go or do something unexpected or outside our normal choices. It is about opening our eyes and noticing things we normally do not pay attention to. Or just choosing to go somewhere we have not been before, perhaps without a plan or reservations to do so. Or perhaps just within ourselves.
In the age of viral media and 100 plus channel choices have we forgotten that adventure is personal? That each of us has the ability to have adventure in the smallest of experiences? Sadly, most that appear to pursue adventure for adventure sake become labeled as adrenaline junkies or thrill seekers. So, those that come to adventure differently feel they need the additional justifications to separate their efforts from the adrenaline junkie. It leads to a situation where the pursuit of adventure can feel selfish or self indulgent and be viewed that way by the public.
We lose a lot if we allow this to continue to progress. Because it is there or because I can is fine if there needs to be a reason at all. Not all choices will be good ones, but that is up to each individual to decide.
Think how much we would have lost from history if those that decided to do differently thought it was a selfish pursuit or that it was unaccessible to the individual?
More importantly, we forget. We forget that each of us is a choice away from adventure. It can be as simple as paying attention and noticing something you pass everyday, differently. Or exploring a thought or idea we allowed no space for years. Or driving in a different direction to work. Or participating in a larger project or expedition when we believed that to be impossible. Or simply taking the time to go somewhere and not have plans.
I did not know what I wanted to talk about for the club. I decided I would speak to adventure in the context of my life. Developing the talk, I realized I was an adventurer and most of the time I had not initiated the adventure but was an accidental tourist for many adventures. That adventure is not just a function of the massive expedition or project, but also lives in the simplest of choices. Most importantly, that I do not need to feel the need to layer on other reasons for pursuing adventure unless I desire it.
Adventure for adventure sake is a noble pursuit in and of itself.