I don't remember what I was talking about but I remember saying it. "I go on these adventures because they challenge me. And they sometimes even scare me.” That’s crazy, right? Adventure is supposed to be smiles and happiness and Instagram photos, right? Adventure isn't supposed to include worrying and anxiety right? I certainly like a relaxing vacation, getting away from the rules and responsibilities of everyday life. For example, one of my favorite ways to relax is a long day at the beach basking in the sun, reading a book, playing paddleball, and taking walks along the surf. But sometimes I like a challenging adventure, doing something that asks me to be fully present and stretch myself a bit. But why would anyone do that since it doesn't sound relaxing?
For me, adventure isn't primarily about relaxing. It's about being fully alive and engrossed in the activity I'm doing. It's about doing something new or challenging in which I'm fully present. It's about being in the flow of doing something. If you've ever experienced true flow you know what I mean. And inherent in that definition of adventure is the fact that what challenges me might not challenge you. I look at a surfer and think “Wow that’s so hard”. But to an experienced surfer, surfing their favorite break might be pretty easy after a few hundred waves. Similarly, while you might look at me driving down a dirt road and think “That’s so easy in a vehicle” for me it can be quite a challenge.
A few years ago I was exploring Utah, overlanding a remote section with Val and our GITBO friends. We had just left camp heading to an even more remote 60-mile stretch of dirt trail the end of which descends into a deep desert wash. There was little information about the road conditions or obstacles and I worried about the conditions. Would there be water? Would it be sandy or muddy? Would we have enough gas if we had to backtrack 60+ miles? I was a bit anxious for sure.
That day, we traversed narrow ledge roads with steep drop-offs. Large loose rocks kicked out from our tires as we slowly crawled through narrow gaps. And finally, we descended into the wash and a fair amount of flowing water. Subway tunnels towered above us as we drove through rounded rock obviously cut by massive floods. We slowly progressed splashing through water, sand, mud, and some sections of dry dirt. “I hope it doesn’t start raining,” I thought. But with each passing mile, I feel a bit more confident and capable. And by the end, I felt victorious with a big smile on my face. It was an adventure for sure. At least it was an adventure for me, because adventure is personal.
It’s too easy to forget the personal nature of adventure. “Oh they’re not hardcore” I may judge when seeing a fellow adventurer. But who’s to say what’s an adventure to someone else? Someone else of course. So whatever adventure looks like to you, I hope you find your next adventure soon.
See you out there,