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There is a Spirit its name is Adventure

I thought I knew what adventure is. I didn’t have a clue.

What is adventure? Adventure is a temperature change in the furnace of the heart.

Adventure is a tremor when you look up at your fear.

It’s the cold floor beneath a child’s feet when they leave their bed at night. It’s the scrape when you climb your first rock, the dingy apartment when you go back to school.

Adventure is an orientation, not an act.

It’s wanting what you don’t want, it’s eyes wide shut, it’s trembling and stumbling forward although you’d rather leave.

There is a Spirit, its name is Adventure.

This spirit grips the heart. You feel it there during, or just after, certain difficult experiences. Like a Vodou saint it rides you, its presence is undeniable. You find yourself shaking and you wonder what you did.

There’s no way I just did that!

How is this spirit called? What draws it into being? I don’t know, I’m just an adventurer. There’s no prescription for adventure. More like a recipe book, a wizard’s secret tome. The secret isn’t in the pages, the secret comes from trial.

The more I study adventure the more I see that I can never describe it.

Here is what I’ve learned.

  • Your adventures count. They matter. The adventures you’ve had are yours forever.
  • The value of adventure is post-active. Adventures are frightening in the moment, but they become your most treasured experiences looking back.
  • If you make a willful choice to challenge your boundaries—whatever those boundaries are—you are likely to have an adventure.
  • Adventure never happens without risk. What counts as risk? It depends on you.
  • Adventure will overwhelm you. When it hits you will be scared, you will shake, you will want to run back. This is part of what you need.
  • Your adventures may be different from mine. It’s okay. Adventure on, my friends.

When you have one adventure you will have more. Adventures are part of a larger narrative we put on our lives. They push us toward bigger adventures. A seemingly small adventure can be momentous. Or the first step in a greater unknown.

I thought I knew what adventure is. I didn’t have a clue. I looked at my adventures, and I identified “adventure.” But Adventure is much more than the six or ten things I’ve done, more than the things any scared human does. It’s that greater human drive to explore, challenge and, yes, even walk with fear.

Adventure is in the heart of the seeker.

14 thoughts on “There is a Spirit its name is Adventure

  1. Yeah! Great post. I’ve had many adventures that involved physical risk. This was different. I had to get the right gear: a suit & heels. I had to overcome self-doubt, expand beyond my boundaries & face my fears. I was shaking in those heels. I will always look back at this with wonder & awe of what I accomplished. Thanks, my dear. I wish you were here, but I’m glad you are where you are.

  2. Arden says:

    You know, I think you could have made this entry about the Sublime, and it would have made perfect sense:

    “Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.. when danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and yet with certain modifications, they may be, and they are delightful….”

    I know the two are related for me. Perhaps they are in general as well.

    I still don’t think we should use adventure lightly, and I believe we all approach it in different ways, only one of which is adventurer. The other roles go too unsung. But I hope everyone experiences the sublime — and I suppose, in that same way, I hope everyone experiences adventure.

    • Very interesting Arden. Where is the quote from?

      (My guess: Kierkegaard, but let me know.)

      Based on that definition of the Sublime, I would say Adventure is a tool used to reach the Sublime.

      • Arden says:

        Didn’t mean to be obtuse — it’s Burke. I don’t know if Kierkegaard has a notion of the Sublime, though I wouldn’t be surprised!

        Sounds plausible. Maybe the Sublime is the end goal? (Though that sounds very abstract.) Something Longinus said about the Sublime– that it can’t be defined too precisely without losing its loftiness, but it can’t be trivialized without losing that, either — reminded me of this discussion and was what made me connect the concepts.

  3. This post reminds me that all adventures don’t mean riding a bike 8,000 miles. I’ve had adventures — I once rode my bike from Eugene, Oregon to Bend, Oregon, over the Three Sisters mountains, by myself. I’ve gone helicopter skiing. I’ve driven my VW van through all the western states…I’ve grown organic gardens and raised a son. At 54, I went back to college for a journalism degree and became the editor of a community newspaper. I helped my mother live a decent life until she died at nearly 102. Now…I’m having foot surgery and I’m scared sleepless. I’m doing it so I can walk and hike again. However, you’ve helped me see, it’s another adventure! How I hold it will make the difference. (I read your article about sleeping sitting up. I might have to try it while I recover from the surgery … Thanks.) Happy adventuring. I’ll follow along and share the adventure.

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