Toward a More Adventurous Life

Adventure is important to me. It’s the cure for a very serious addiction called “the status quo.” But how can you find adventure? Not everyone can pick up and run off to faraway locales, so how do you thrust adventure upon your everyday life?

Photo credit: "Suddenly, TENTACLES!" by Dan Solo.

I like to take advantage of times of change as a chance for adventure. Six years ago I bought my current house, a 110 year old duplex in the Twin Cities just a block from the river. In that home I came into my own as an adult, married and divorced a wife, and taught countless students how to meditate. She’s been a good house.

But in January I signed over the house and said good-bye to mortgage payments forever. I’m temporarily living as a tenant in my own home, with a lease that expires April 30.

And then I move out.

How Can I Live like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Right now I’m looking at a few amazing options of where to live. None of them is gorgeous; none will be the envy of all my friends. There are no condos, Victorian mansions, or hip artist communes on my list.

Nonetheless, no matter which option I choose I am almost guaranteed to have a lifetime worth of stories to tell. Here are just two of the options:

Option One: Live in a Fricking Monastery Yeah you heard me. In the suburban wilds of Minneapolis, MN there is a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. I say “Tibetan” but there are four sects in Tibet (the Dali Lama represents only one of the four, and the others don’t consider him their leader). This one is Kagyu sect.

You can check out this place online but I warn you—their web presence isn’t exactly up to 2011 standards (edit: it has since been updated by yours truly). In fact, seeing how outdated it is, I offered to be their social media consultant in exchange for lodging with them for the summer. They accepted!

I’d met the lama there before. Lama Pamela Holtum may be an American by birth but she is a very strict old-world Kagyu monk (and a joy to speak with). She and I talked about their social media needs and determined that my skills could be of use to them. She also added gardening to the list of what she needs from a non-monk lodger, and a little bit of money for utilities. Proposed monthly rent: $50.

Option Two: Abandoned Ballroom (and cetera) I had seriously considered the idea of squatting in an abandoned warehouse, but a little bit of research turned me off. In the UK and Europe, squatting is fairly well received. It’s illegal, but seldom punished. Neighbors often don’t care.

In the US however, squatters are prosecuted and building owners can be quite extreme. I don’t want legal troubles but I do want to live somewhere awesome. Someone suggested that the best approach is just to talk to the owner, and tell them I want to live in their warehouse/brewery/whatever. Vacant buildings don’t bring in any money, and many renovation projects are stalled right now. Offering the owner a small monthly fee might get permission to use a space as a temporary headquarters (with a “groundskeeper” or “art studio” arrangement on paper).

Photo credit: "Heatwave" by Shane Gorski

Enticed, I delved into the world of abandoned Minneapolis buildings. Because they live to serve, the Minneapolis city government even provided me with a comprehensive list of every abandoned, vacant or condemned property in the city limits—along with the status of any plans to demolish it.

I’ve identified a few key prospects but my absolute favorite is a vacant ballroom. With high ceilings, plenty of space and giant windows overlooking Downtown, it’s like the place was build to host killer parties and lots of late-night chats over wine.

I still need to do a walk-through of the place to make sure it’s livable, but from the property history and the view through the windows it seems promising. Proposed monthly rent: $300

Why Not Just Get an Apartment?

A summer spent in a Buddhist monastery or a vacant ballroom will undoubtedly be a story worth telling. But I know some of you are thinking that living somewhere weird just for the stories is not exactly worth it. I agree.

Things I consider:

  • I will save roughly $800/month on rent for the entire summer. I can use this to pay off loans and save up for my dream of eventually traveling the world. This wouldn’t be possible in a conventional apartment lease.
  • Living somewhere out of the ordinary means having extraordinary experiences. I’ve never chatted with a monk about meditation over margaritas at 2 a.m. before, but I’ve been told that’s a distinct possibility.
  • I love meeting new people. Neither place is in a part of the Cities that I would look for conventional apartments, but both are residential areas with lots of people to meet. This promises the chance for new friends.
  • I can put my skills to work in new ways. At the monastery I’ll be growing food that’s given to food shelters. At the ballroom I’ll hone my handyman skills and get to throw amazing parties that people talk about for years.

That’s the great thing about adventure. It can start off with a fairly egoistic motive (“I want to have cool stories to tell!”) but the very process transforms you. Living adventurously raises the stakes, and suddenly you don’t want to do it just for selfish reasons. It becomes about benefiting others, or at the very least, self development.

Which of these places would you choose?

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22 thoughts on “Toward a More Adventurous Life

  1. When my wife was 8 months pregnant with our second child (19 years ago) we bought a 100 year old house in downtown Birmimgham and spent the next 12 years restoring it to its former glory while both teaching school, starting a part-time therapeutic massage practice, having a third and raising all three children with three dogs and doing urban gardening in the front yard. Some of our best stories come from that 12 year adventure.

    I’d go for the monastery. Too many of my loves seem to coalesce in that option. Love your take on adventure!

  2. I envy you…. for being in a position to make these sorts of decisions. I, like so many other people I know. have become bogged down by mere fact of existence. I have nothing more to say except: follow your heart!

    • The fun thing is that 12 months ago, I wasn’t in that position at all. I decided I needed to make changes, but I knew I couldn’t just drop things. It took a year to free myself. One of the steps was finding a new job, not easy in 2010 but all was worth it. There were many other steps as well, and even what I’m doing now is just part of the road toward living my dream.

  3. Honestly, I think the monastery would be an incredible experience.

    Another option that might be more expensive up front but essentially free after that is a Tiny House. I’m a big advocate for the movement and I think it has practical applications for adventurers like you. I am currently in the process of finishing my tiny house and am taking steps toward changing my own life.

    Whatever you choose, I can’t wait to follow along on the ride.

    • Hi Laura, I would love to know more about the tiny house movement. Since my hope is to eventually pick up and travel freely I am hesitant to invest in another house, but if you can recommend resources I would still be interested in learning.

      • Check out my tiny house blog by clicking my name. The blog roll there has a lot of great sites to check out. The first place to go is Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. Jay Shafer is a marvelous guy with a great idea and I am only too happy to spread the word. The idea is perfect for someone like you who wants to travel and bring your house with you.

  4. I once considered being a state and national parks nomad. You can camp for up to two weeks at most of these parks and it seemed a good way to see the country, going from park to park. Rent would average $300 a month when I first considered it and it would be an interesting way to meet people. Maybe one day I’ll take a year to do just that.

  5. I’d go for the monastery. The joys of hot, running water are unlikely to be found in a squat. (Speaking as someone who lives in a city where they turn off the hot water for 3 weeks every spring…) Toilets are nice too.

    • Ha good point. My intention is to only live in a place with power and running water. That’s why narrowing down the vacant buildings has been such a big project and why I’m going to approach the owners instead of squatting.

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