I love to read about people’s adventures. Learning about the exciting things that other people are getting up to makes me smile – it helps me to understand even more than life is all about the journey and that life can be fun and exciting. I read lots of adventure-focussed blogs, follow adventurers on twitter, and have even recently bought a couple of adventure writing books – yes, actual books.
I blogged a little while ago that I felt too old and sensible for adventure. I explained that I felt adventure travel, expeditions, taking risks, is for those who are young, have no ties and lots of spare money. I still feel this in some ways. I feel that “adventurers” are a special breed; they are people with super powers (and lots of time/money) who have the opportunity to spend their lives training for, planning and going on amazing trips. I don’t resent them by any means, I love to hear about what they are doing, but despite all the things I’ve been able to do so far in my life, I know I am not one of them.
One of the reasons I think this way is because of some of the statements that adventure writers have made. Such as (and I am paraphrasing here): “guided tours are not adventures as they are easy”, “if you have your phone and use it to tweet photos then you’re not having an adventure”, “to be an adventure you have to reach the limit of physical endurance”, and “if you call it an adventure then it isn’t one”. I understand what the writers are saying I think – they are saying that adventure must be out of your comfort zone, and to have the best experience you have to come up with something unique, train hard and focus fully without distraction. But statements like this also make me feel like the things I do, the dreams I have, are not as meaningful as theirs.
These statements mean that the vast majority of us have never had and will never have an true adventure. I completely agree that doing something at the limits of human ability, or going somewhere incredibly remote on your own with no local help, is most definitely an adventure – there is no doubt about that. But what about all the smaller things I can achieve? Surely adventure isn’t just for those who are super fit, super wealthy and super confident? Adventure can also be for us ordinary folk.
The dictionary says that adventure is “an unusual and exciting or daring experience“. As adventure is an experience, the level of risk needed to make it so changes depending on the person involved. It depends on who you are, what your fears are, what your circumstances are. It therefore doesn’t matter what your budget is, how long it lasts, or even whether someone else has already done it ten (or a hundred) times before. It is fine if it’s for yourself or for charity. It’s okay if you employ the services of a guide, agent or friend to help make it happen. It’s not a problem if you don’t sleep under a plastic sheet, don’t kill/forage and cook your own food, don’t travel half way around the globe, or don’t nearly die doing it.
One person I know of that believes this is Alastair Humphreys, who’s recently released book “Microadventures” describes ways to have 5pm to 9am adventures close to home/work. The main idea is that you set off from work at your normal leaving time, travel to somewhere not far but remote, sleep under the stars, get up the next morning and go straight to work. A one night, mid-week expedition that involves a tent (or bivvy bag) and a dip in a lake in the morning instead of a shower. He explains that adventures can involve eating in a pub or cooking on a beer can stove. They can involve walking five miles, cycling 15 or taking the train 50. They can be on your own or with friends or family. Microadventures like this can be for everybody – all ages, all fitness levels, all careers. Don’t want to camp out under the stars? Get to a youth hostel and sleep in a dorm room instead. Don’t want to go wild swimming? Make your way to a local swimming pool for an early morning swim in warm water after your night away. The point is doing something like this from 5pm to 9am is a great way to have a little adventure without giving everything up and becoming a full time adventurer. I love the idea – I must do one of these soon!
But even if it’s not an Al Humphrey’s inspired adventure (the book is really great, I recommend it), other things still count too. New things. Scary things. Things in daylight. Things at the weekend. Dare I add things that include a nice hotel stay?! And definitely things you do once using experience vouchers just to give it a try. The only proviso is that you do it for you, to challenge or test or develop or dare or enjoy yourself.
An adventure is an experience that you have, that you plan, that you work for, that you dream about, that you achieve, that you re-count with a big smile on your face. What it actually is, from a one-day hike up a big hill in Yorkshire to a long term expedition in the wildest location, makes no difference to the label. If what you are doing is a bit daring and exciting for you, if it gives you a adrenaline rush or a bit of a refreshed look on life, then you are having an adventure.
Personally speaking, my biggest problem with having big adventures has always been my ability to choose one. Until I can learn to make decisions and focus on them fully I will continue to choose small personal adventures, whilst reading about the amazing things that those I look up to are doing. I will have lots of little experiences that challenge and develop me, and give me many stories to tell. I will continue to add to my big bucket list, as silly as the things might be, blogging and taking photographs, using each thing I tick off to make the most of my journey. One day I might be a book-worthy adventurer, you never know, but for now I will continue to smile my way through each step I take.
Are you adventurous? Or an adventurer? What do you think adventure is? Can little things be described as adventures or does adventure have to be massive? How much risk does there need to be for something to be considered an adventure? If you could go on any adventure this weekend what would it be? If you were me, what would you add to my bucket list?
Life is all about the journey. Let’s have our own adventures!