This is the story of why love isn’t always enough.
It’s no secret that I’ve found a happy relationship. She’s a fellow traveler and very independent. She revealed her adventuresome nature on an 80 mile bike expedition and since then we’ve run away like bandits.
For me, this is very special: a woman who roams like I do. When we’re knee-deep in mud, or packed with 18 people in a 12-person van, I look over at her, waiting for the flare—the anger, the what-are-we-doing? Instead, there’s my fellow adventurer, chin set, hair up and no sign of anything but determination to beat this challenge.
I’m honored that she’s with me. My time with Jessica gives me a new faith in love.
Yet the reaction I get from others expects more than that: that love itself is the journey. That falling in love is, somehow, everything I set out to search for.
I don’t believe that.
I believe in a life of seeking challenge and attempting impossible tasks. Adventure is not just a pastime until I find love. Adventure is an end in itself, a vehicle to reshape a life.
I guess I can understand why people view love as the greatest adventure. It’s frightening and thrilling, and if you don’t go out trekking through unknown lands then love is much easier to relate to. But for someone who does both, love and adventure look very different.
And different types of adventure are not interchangeable. You can find true love and still fail to overcome your drinking problem; you can lose a marathon and still help change children’s lives. The purpose of one quest is not the purpose of them all.
My purpose is most certainly to explore. To explore myth, to explore the globe, and to dig deep wherever I go. It is to pursue the heroic life.
The heroic life is the choice to use travel as a practice to change lives, starting with your own.
For some, love will be the ultimate treasure found in that journey. But to many others, love will be the temptation holding them back.
That’s because adventure, in the sense of physical, out-in-the-world adventure, is the most transformative practice I know—but it is not the most alluring. It’s much easier to sell comfort and safety, or even mere thrill-seeking, than it is to sell real adventure.
Love, on the other hand, sells itself. We are built to seek love, and told it is pure—but love is just one treasure, one of many wondrous treasures.
So the adventurer has to choose sometimes: do you want to adventure, or do you want love? And if you choose love, what will you give up?
I believe one can have both, but that’s because I believe in true love—love that abides. If you have a quest, true love will not require you to give it up, not to delay it, not to reduce your dream in size or in scope. Your true love will bless you, and send you to finish your great quest. You will both understand that you will be together again.
It is right to take risks for love. But it is also right to risk love itself. True love will not give you up.
One day there will be bands of people pursuing the heroic life together: private journeys on a shared quest. Each of them is on a journey to find (to choose) their purpose in life. And some will find, and choose, Love.
Their fellows will sit down and celebrate with them, will let them go, will let them settle down without objection. And their fellows will go away, still wandering, still in search.
Because there is more to find than love.
Lift yourself up, oh adventurer, and look to the sky: is there not something higher than the heart beside you?
To many, the answer is no: even just finding one heart, one kindred heart, is so much more than many people ever achieve.
But the heroic life dreams bigger, dreams too big, dangerously big. To live the heroic life is to attempt inconceivable things. The moment the journeyman contemplates a normal goal, an admirable goal, his hopes are set too low.