My friend Collin waved his arms over his head in my direction, his bright red dry suit helps to grab my attention. I hadn’t seen him for about 30 minutes after I had flipped my kayak a quarter mile upstream in a big rapid and ended up swimming.
Collin, having seen that I was safe after I had self-rescued, chased my now-empty kayak as it floated downstream for about a half mile until he was able to catch it and pull it ashore. He then hiked that other quarter mile back upstream to where we were now reconnecting for the first time after the incident. It was wasn’t a horrible swim or situation, but it wasn’t pretty either. Welcome to the Adventure Series.
Leading up to this kayak trip I had been writing and thinking a lot about adventure, specifically, what makes an adventure, an adventure. Quite often, some aspects that people associate with adventure are risk and challenge. Amidst wandering a river bank after having swum a rapid and with my friend nowhere in sight, I couldn’t help but think, “now this has got to be an adventure.” And it really was one, albeit a bit of a misadventure.
A New Lens
However, before Collin and I found ourselves daring that canyon, I had been thinking about adventure in different terms. I think that this new “lens” I’ve been pondering holds true even after our misadventure.
You see, navigating risk and overcoming challenge yield immensely positive and beneficial returns; and often create a feeling in us that we are actually having an adventure! It is my belief that the best adventures have these elements in them and in fact, that they are significantly important parts of adventure because they cause the most personal and corporate growth. I could write a whole separate post on all that I learned while we worked our way through the canyon that day. Nonetheless, I don’t think that the elements of risk and challenge define adventure like I so often hear that they do.
There some similarly important aspects that, in my opinion, come first. Those aspecst are curiosity and discovery. To me, these are lenses that we need to look at adventure through. I enjoy taking risks and overcoming challenges in the outdoors, but I don’t think that they best precede finding an adventure. It’s not found in looking for risk and challenge, but instead in using curiosity to see what you can discover about the world around you that invites adventure.
Motivation – What’s Under The Surface
Let’s take our exciting kayaking adventure for example. I didn’t want to go down that river because I thought running a difficult rapid and flipping my kayak sounded like a good idea. Believe me, it’s the last thing I want to do. Those were the consequences of the risk I took and the challenge I failed to overcome, but facing that risk and overcoming that challenge wasn’t what motivated me to go out there to in the first place. Those aspects are rewards I get to enjoy along the way.
What I really wanted was to just see that canyon and experience it. That’s curiosity! I’ve been to this river when it’s water flow is much lower and you can walk upstream through the canyon, but I have never kayaked it. My desire to run that river started with the thought, “what will it be like!?” It was my excitement to see that canyon with more water flowing through it and wondering what it would be like to kayak it that brought me to it’s banks. I desired to see something as simple as how the water flowed around the rocks. It’s beauty I wanted to behold while discovering the unknown secrets it had yet to reveal to me. I wanted to encounter it! (And I sure did, though maybe out of a lack of judgment on my part).
It was that curiosity and desire for discovery that motivated me to go. They’re lenses that enabled me to see and find this adventure.
Adventure For Everyone
Now, you may be thinking that heading out to kayak whitewater on some scary river is the last thing you want to do. Great, then this is for you! It seems to me that an adventure is often associated with big daring feats of mountains and wild terrain that the adventurer conquers with stunning physical ability. I do think those are great adventures and have value in this conversation in their own right, but I don’t want anyone to feel excluded from adventuring because they have no interest in an outdoor suffer-fest.
When we use curiosity and discovery as lenses, we find that everyone, in their own way, can have their life enriched by adventure. I do, however, believe that the best of adventure is going to be found in the great outdoors. There isn’t a more powerful substitute; no greater place for your curiosity to come to life. As much as I love hanging off a cliff on my fingertips or charging a big ol’ rapid on a river, I pursue going outside just to look at, experience, and discover it with the same passion. To me, it’s equally important and rewarding. It touches my soul and spirit in the same way.
So how does this help us adventure? My hope is that it simplifies our approach to adventure so that we can better take action on our desire for it.
Easier Than You Think
Imagine you’re walking at your local nature trail or park, what do you see that is familiar? What is unfamiliar? Go get acquainted with the unfamiliar. Maybe it’s a little stream that’s flowing. Go see how cold it is. Can you swim in it? What is it’s source? Go find out and follow it upstream.
Where in your city have you yet to go? Maybe you don’t know, so use your curiosity-lenses to find out! Where’s the best city-scape? Or the best view of the surrounding countryside? What would a sunrise there look like? How about a sunset? Or maybe the forest, the beach or a favorite spot of yours during a rainstorm? Or maybe you just sleep under the stars in your backyard!
So now it’s your turn. Put those curiosity-goggles on, set your mind on discovery and let it lead you into the unknown, no matter how big or small.