Adventure, Favorites, Spotlight

I Faked an Answer About Adventure

I spoke on Friday’s Hero Report about my journey and the way adventure shapes me as a person.

Hosts Matt and Ari had some great questions, one of which I had no answer to. After I described the dangerous areas of my trip and the preparation that I’m making, Ari asked me a:

[Laughing] Every word you say makes it sound worse to me than it sounded before you said that particular sentence. I don’t like adventures. I am a homebody: I like to sit and read a book or watch television or listen to music. Or think about something, whatever. I am not racing out and doing and seeing… What kind of adventure could I have?

I answered by sputtering through a personal anecdote and threw some softball suggestions: try a leadership position? Volunteer somewhere? Travel to a non-resort area?

What I should have said to this question is: Ari, I have no idea.

I don’t know if armchair adventure is possible. I hope it is, but I’m not sure what it even looks like.

Do you?

A point that I’ve made over and over is that I don’t expect everyone to do what I’m doing. When I advocate that people add adventure to their lives, I mean they should find a way to do so that matches their passions, their interests and the realities of their personal life.

I believe adventure can be accessible and safe for anyone. Loreen Niewenhuis was a single mother when she successfully walked around Lake Michigan. She did it in segments, driving to where she left off last time, to balance it with her duties at home. 1,000 miles on foot, one short trip at a time: amazing.

But it seems even this kind of controlled, safe adventure would be too much for Ari and, I suspect, lots of other healthy adults.

So I have this dilemma. I want to identify practices that anyone can do—anyone at all, indoors or outdoors, at age 20 or age 60. But I don’t want to redefine adventure to mean any old activity you do on your couch.

I need your ideas. What does a starter adventure look like? What does “adventure” mean for people who are homebodies or prefer the indoors?

Is it possible?

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26 thoughts on “I Faked an Answer About Adventure

  1. Wouldn’t “adventure” be anything action that takes you outside of your normal daily routine and challenges you too? An adventure for someone who’s never been to a theater would be to buy tickets for the first time, arrange getting there, dealing with the crowd and sounds, then learning to let the experience on the stage unfold. When I was in Haiti, the adventure could simply have been going up half a block by myself and getting money exchanged at a local stall for the first time. For those that are not very public people or who don’t really want to travel, it can be any small thing that takes them outside of the box and teaches them something new about themselves that might, just might lead to the next larger adventure. An action that lets us walk up to a fear, make friends with it and pass through.

    • I generally agree with you, Ecstatic. The only problem is I don’t want to water down the word adventure. I’m not sure that walking a neighbor’s dog or cooking pasta is really what we mean when we say “adventure” but for some people those actions could be momentous events. It feels like it needs to be out of the ordinary somehow to be adventure, like your money changing example. Hmm.

  2. This question reminded me of the movie UP. The part at the end where the old man finds the note from his dead wife that says, “YOU were my great adventure.” The old man was so haunted by the fact that he was never able to take his wife on the adventure of her dreams, he had failed to recognize the adventure that was their every day life together.

    I think big adventures are beautiful things, but I’m also a firm believer in the idea that our adventure is right here, right now, every second of our lives. We don’t HAVE to do something that others view as epic. We just have to live. We have to be present, wide-eyed, looking for the magic in the mundane because it’s always there. But living is key. Staying on the couch and watching TV is a fun way to relax, but it’s passive and I think that’s the opposite of adventure. Not to say that adventure have to be “activities” in the formal sense. But it has to involve you interacting with the physical world.

    • So it has to be engaging somehow. Would you say it has to be immersive, even? Like put you in a totally new context? If not, what is the borderline for what “interacting the with physical world” means?

      Great movie, by the way.

  3. What about learning or seeing anything that you haven’t learned or seen before? Setting ambitious goals like writing a book or designing and completing a home science experiment? Purposefully meeting the types of people you would normally avoid in order to learn about them and create understanding? Invisioning a large scale community improvement project?

    I guess it would have to depend heavily on the definition for adventure. For me, it has always been synonymous with learning and experiencing new things. One can continue to do this even from their couch or hometown (“I shall seek out every park in the county and visit it”, for example) But I am not the sage Priest of adventuring… that’s you. My definition is likely not in sync with yours…

    • Hahaha, sage priest my ass. But actually your definition is very similar to mine. Even the examples you give are similar to ones I often give… does this mean I have an alien mind?

      I definitely agree with meeting people you wouldn’t normally meet. Sometimes I wonder though whether writing a book is really an adventure. It’s an example I’ve given many times, but not one I’m sure I can stand by. I’m starting to feel there is a sense of scale or unusualness tied into adventure.

  4. thalassa says:

    “I think big adventures are beautiful things, but I’m also a firm believer in the idea that our adventure is right here, right now, every second of our lives. We don’t HAVE to do something that others view as epic. We just have to live. We have to be present, wide-eyed, looking for the magic in the mundane because it’s always there.”

    This! So beautifully said…

    An adventure can be as simple as trying something new and out of character or as difficult as conquering a fear–car camping for the person that thinks a Super 8 is roughing it, baking meals from scratch for a week or a month for the person that orders take out or eats frozen meals every day, taking swimming lessons for the person afraid of water, etc.

    I don’t think that an adventure is so much of what you do, as it is the attitude that you do it with. Open-minded and open-hearted, with a willingness to encounter and embrace new ideas and experiences.

  5. I totally agree with the comments posted so far. Life is what you make of it. And adventure is anything that takes you outside of your comfort zone and teaches you something or helps you grow in general. It could be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. It could be a volunteering, reading a new book, starting a new hobby, getting a new pet, making new friends, trying new foods, etc. The keyword is new. New is usually exciting, no matter what it is. Adventures are about trying something new and overcoming fear.

  6. This:

    “adventure is anything that takes you outside of your comfort zone and teaches you something or helps you grow”

    I’d define an adventure as an experience that expands our personal or societal boundaries, and one which contains a risk of something being lost. All known adventurers that I can think of got famous for broadening our collective sense of what’s possible, and for facing a danger inherent to their journey.

    I guess I’d differ from most of the above commentators because I believe that one needs to expand against their limitations, and that that expansion needs to contain an element of risk, in order for them to have a true adventure. These are less examples for homebodies though, and it makes it more complicated because the word adventure usually indicates some form of physical journey…

    …however, I’d call these ones adventures:

    #/ Starting to make a consistent, long-term effort to change the structure of your family, business, or community so that they’re more (ethical, meaningful, helpful, what-have-you).
    #/ Figuring out and writing about your opinions on complicated or controversial subjects and putting them in an environment where people you value could see and disagree with them.
    #/ Having trouble thinking of more, haha… oh well. I can see how you got stumped on this one, Drew!

  7. I used to take my kids on adventures when they were little. I was a single Mom and things like movies and amusement parks were not usually in the budget. But I managed to come up with unique ideas and places for us to go that were free (hikes, visiting different lakes, going weird places for picnics, a local college’s art shows, an old train that sits in a park , pet stores, walks to raise money for a homeless shelter, camping in the rain, barbeques at a state park, trick or treating followed by a costume party and contest at our house , we even went all the way across country for a job I took on another coast for one year, etc.) They still talk about our adventures and the crazy places their Mom took them.

  8. Rua Lupa says:

    I’d just ask people what would be something adventurous to them and go from there. Since as you said, each person has their own flavor of what adventure would be. So long as it is outside their current comfort zone, its adventure. Possibly asking, what would you do if you knew you could do it? would be good starting point.

    • I like this approach a lot. It occurred to me I should have started by asking Ari what his passions are and then how could he challenge his boundaries with those passions. I think the question approach can make it much more personal, and clearer.

  9. While I have had some real life adventures – being stranded at an airport in the Republic of Georgia at tree o’clock in the morning without a working phone, address, or anyone waiting for me anywhere; getting rid of most of my belongings and driving 2000 kilometres to restart my life in a country where I barely spoke the language; spending five weeks in a goat hair tent in the desert – most of my adventures are just in day to day living:

    We spent a week without electricity on purpose. I learned so much about myself and how electric light and convenience affects me. We ate only vegetarian food for a week in 2008 and now we’re still 95% vegan. We tossed out the refrigerator when it broke down. We got rid of our rubbish removal services. We built a studio for my husband. We made sparkling elderflower wine We had date nights where we cooked things we never ever thought we’d try and rented films from China, Bhutan, Lebanon, Italy, etc. One year I made all of my summer reading best-sellers by Arabic authors. This year I was going to do Japanese, but life got in the way because right now, we’re having the ultimate homebody adventure: we just bought a 18-19th century smallholding that we are renovating and turning into a biodynamic permaculture smallholding for more sustainable living.

    Every year on our wedding anniversary, we go outside of the home and do something new that we have never tried before. We’ve gone horseback hiking (never sat on a horse before, but that day we actually gallopped through the snowy forests), we’ve been locked in an enclosure to feed wild wolves, we’ve taken a tango dancing lesson, and more, all within an hour’s drive from home.

    Most of those examples might not bring about the same rush of adrenaline that being argued over by drunken Eurasian taxi drivers does, but they certainly involve getting out of one’s comfort zone and expanding the mind and soul.

    • We spent a week without electricity on purpose. I learned so much about myself and how electric light and convenience affects me. We ate only vegetarian food for a week in 2008 and now we’re still 95% vegan. We tossed out the refrigerator when it broke down. We got rid of our rubbish removal services. We built a studio for my husband. We made sparkling elderflower wine We had date nights where we cooked things we never ever thought we’d try and rented films from China, Bhutan, Lebanon, Italy, etc. One year I made all of my summer reading best-sellers by Arabic authors.

      I think these are excellent examples. I want to get Ari to read this and see if this kind of thing (not these specific things) would count as adventure in his book, and if they’re the kind of things that would fit his “homebody” lifestyle.

      Thanks Emma. I would say “getting out of one’s comfort zone and expanding the mind and soul” is a perfect definition of adventure.

    • Rua Lupa says:

      <3 the adventures and the at home experiences you shared. How did you go about storing food and what kind of foods did you have in response to not having a fridge?

      We've moved to be mostly eating vegetarian meals too (currently about 70% and growing) and am glad for it. Speaking of which, do you happen to have any simple recipes to share? We're looking to expand in variety but we're trying to keep it to easy to find/grow foods (we're in Northern Ontario, Canada) to maximize the use of a few things i.e. potatoes, cabbage, carrots, apples, pastas, etc. in a variety of recipes, especially easy to keep foods.

      • Hi Rua Lupa!

        The coolest part of our house was the cellar, which was only used as a laundry room, so we put an old IKEA bookshelf in there, put some baskets on the shelves, with crumpled up newspaper (for the moisture; it was a really wet cellar) in them, and called it a day. We already did not eat dairy regularly (although you can keep cheese and butter in a cool spot in the house up towards a month, unopened yoghurt also keeps well if it hasn’t been subject to lots of temperature change). Opened marmalade and jam can usually do a month in the kitchen without a fridge. Pickles, mustard and th like keep almost indefinitely. Honey will literally keep until the archaeologists find it. Fruits do worse in the fridge to start with. Most vegetables, even the old stuff they sell at the supermarkt, will last for a week or more lying in a basket on some crumpled up newspaper. Aubergines must be eaten in a few days, and salad leaves obviously do not last more than 24 hours, heads however can last a week. If your broccoli goes limp, put the stem in some water and it’ll crisp right up. Limp carrots can be similarly crisped before use – just peel (if you need to) and pop the whole thing in some cold water for a while. Eggs do great in room temperature, but if you keep them for a several weeks remember to turn them occasionally as they go bad by sticking to the shell.

        We haven’t actually had to do anything to our diet at all for the sake of quitting the fridge. Unless you count that aubergines are now always eaten on Fridays or Saturdays because we shop on Thursdays.

        We’re not entirely without cold food storage, though. Now we have a standing freezer (rental), and when we move to our smallholding in a few weeks we’re getting an energy efficient box freezer. We also have a very good travel cooler that we can toss reusable ice packs into to keep leftovers, or party food/drinks when we have guests in the summer.

        • Rua Lupa says:

          Excellent. Thank you for such a thorough response! Your description is pretty much along the same lines of what I was hoping to do when we get a house and now it’s confirmed that it can be done without an overhaul in lifestyle. (now I have to convince my significant other that is the case :)

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  11. My greatest life adventure began in January when we sold our car. We live car-free, commuting by bicycle to all of our local destinations. We rent a car when necessary and borrow one for vacation. Like you, I don’t suggest this is a lifestyle for everyone. But I do think there is always a place “outside of the box” where each of us can feel we belong.

  12. Pingback: You can’t hardline adventure (but does it have to hurt?) « Rogue Priest

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