January 7, 2011

Adding Adventure to Your Life

Generally, I play it safe. You aren't going to to find me bungee-jumping, sky-diving, rock-climbing, even riding a big, fast roller coaster. Financially, my wife and I are conservative. Our possessions are quite mainstream. When we vacation we make standard choices like Italy or England or Hawaii. Going to Tibet or the rain forest of the Amazon aren't really on our radar.

So, why a post about adding adventure to your life? There are two primary reasons: I need to listen to the message and attempt a bit of a change in 2011. And, because adventure has a much broader definition than is usually assigned to the word. It doesn't have to just involve physical activities. Of course within the past two weeks I cut my hand deeply on Christmas Day and slipped on ice New Year's morning spraining my wrist. Maybe I should be writing about safety instead. But, no, that would be counter-productive. Adventure is what being alive is about.

Why Be Adventurous?

What are the possible gains if you decide to embrace a more adventurous life this year? Self-confidence and belief in yourself with be strengthened. You could discover abilities you think you lack. You might learn to overcome some fears that have been holding you back from a truly satisfying retirement.  Of course, fear is a good thing. It can keep you from physical harm. But, fear of things that aren't likely to hurt you can limit your life experiences.

Trying new things might help you understand  more about your strengths and weaknesses. If your limits are not tested how can you know what those limits are? Henry David Thoreau said it best: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. "  We can't know what music is still in us if we have no idea what we are capable of.

What Does Adding Adventure Look Like?

Adding adventure to your life can come in several forms. No matter what I write here, I'm still not jumping out of a plane or exploring deep, dark caves. It just isn't going to happen. But, that doesn't mean I can't discover what would work with my personality and temperament. One idea is to look at friends and acquaintances who are higher up the adventure-meter than I and see if there is something I can adapt to my life.

I have a friend who loves to mountain bike. He thinks nothing of hurling down a hill, full bore, with just his skill and a dash of luck to keep him from a serious spill. OK, not my style. Not gong to happen. But, I've toyed with the idea of getting a trail bike and starting to pedal my way through desert trails in the Phoenix area. There is still some danger from rocks, loose sand, even an occasional rattlesnake. But, that level of danger I believe I am able to tolerate. It sounds like fun, it is something I can handle physically, and would expand my horizons. I wouldn't shatter my comfort zone, just push the edge back a bit. It doesn’t matter how wild or daring this adventure is. What matters is trying something new.

I read somewhere a definition of adventure that includes anything that makes your heart race or your pulse quicken. Thus almost any experience in life qualifies. For example, what if you went to a restaurant that serves food you normally don't eat? What if you order something from the menu you can't even pronounce? Would that qualify as an adventure? Absolutely. You are allowing yourself to fail in an adventurous attempt to succeed. The only real risks are wasted money, you go home hungry, or you missed the chance to discover a whole new cuisine you enjoy.

Are these adventurous: talking to a stranger at a social or community event, painting your living room a bold shade of red, or going to the opera when you are sure you hate it? Absolutely. Each of those is every bit as much an adventure as rafting down the Colorado. How about trying a new flavor of coffee? Buy three magazines in subjects you don't know or understand. Read them.

Life is An Adventure, isn't it?

Adding adventure really just means that you choose to become a lover of life. Decide to say, "Yes," when your comfortable self wants to say, "No."  There be will  mistakes, there might be some embarrassment. Heavens, you may fall flat on your face, both literally and figuratively. If this happens get up, learn from you mistakes and give it another shot.

Choose to say, “Yes.” Do what have you always wanted but never dared try. Don’t fear risks. Take measured risks. Know that you are grabbing onto what life has to offer.

Question: What one thing have you done that surprised even you? What would qualify as an adventure in your life?

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  1. Bob, I've written about it previously, but "Linda's Big Adventure" this last year was joining a community orchestra less than three years after I picked up a violin for the first time, knowing that I'm by far the worst or least-experienced violinist by far. I have to say that a quieter adventure has been taking up a vegetarian--really mostly vegan--lifestyle, which has required me to revamp all my cooking skills. What does a vegan cook in the instance when the comfort of chicken soup would be called for? Smile. After years of first writing novels for teens and then writing for a decade for an options-trading website, I'm trying to revive my fiction-writing career. In this time of the e-book that requires a writer not only to write but to use social networking to market her work, that's a scary venture that heightens my fear of failure. My violin teacher put this whole idea of adventure into perspective for me. After a particularly miserable lesson, she said that not many adults my age put themselves into a situation in which they may fail or when they're subject to being taught instead of being the teachers. She said we should give children credit for the stress they endure all the time being subject to so many failures as they learn what life has to teach. So, I'm going to try to consider myself adventurous every time I put myself in that situation.

    By the way, you might find that you love mountain biking on downhill single tracks! The only time I was ever injured on my mountain bike was on a flat asphalt trail!

  2. Good morning, Linda,

    Your violin teacher's statement summarized the entire issue for most: "Not many adults my age put themselves into a situation in which they may fail or when they're subject to being taught instead of being the teachers."

    Your comment is absolutely perfect as the first one for this post. You have given us a strong example of how adventure covers so many activites...even to what does a vegan do when she wants chicken soup?

    Book writing, becoming a vegan, violin playing, learning how to navigate the new world of e-book marketing...I am comfortable in saying that you are an adventurous lady who is really living her life.

    You are an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Hi, Bob... Yep, I agree that adventure comes in many flavors. Linda's joining the community orchestra is an excellent example. Seems to me that adventure may make the heart race, or it may simply add excitement to one's waking up in the morning.

    Now about your having slipped on the ice. Sorry that happened. Best of luck in recovery from your injury. As I walk up to the road each morning to pick up the newspaper, I seasonally walk on ice. I've found the YakTrax to be an excellent product. Wearing them on my shoes, I walk on ice very confidently... and safely. Here's a link to the YakTrax on the REI web site: http://www.rei.com/product/760281 Bill

  4. Hi Bill,

    Yes, Linda's taking up the violin is a gutsy move that should inspire us all to take on a new challenge.

    We get ice so infrequently in Phoenix that I just wasn't paying attention. I had left one of our fountains running overnight because temps were going to be in the mid 20's (instead of the normal low 40's). Part of the water sprayed on the flagstone and got me. But for those in colder climes, the link to the ice grippers is appreciated.

    By the way, is that you in the biking photo at the head of the post?

  5. For me a recent adventure was taking a group of third graders on a tour of the maritime museum. Believe me, it's a workout for the body as well as the mind!

  6. A great example, Steve. Third graders are just the right age to show a strong desire for mayhem.

  7. Hi Bob.

    Just wanted to get on here to say hello, and let you and the others know I'm still around reading and enjoying all your posts and the various comments.

    We've had lots of active adventures over the years. Right now my wife and I (each 51) are in an interesting transition time, which is an adventure in itself .... my transition involves strongly considering cutting back on my work (law) and slowing down my activity level ... while in contrast my wife is creating opportunities to increase her activity level (since the kids are all grown up and both her parents have passed on, and I'm working, she has more free time) ... the absolutely great thing about all this is that our already great 28 year marriage has gotten even stronger as we communicate and work together to help each other on these "adventures" .....

  8. Hi J,

    Great to see you on the comment page. Your response to the post is fabulous. I love the way you describe the transition you and your wife are going through, in different directions but still together.

    You are an inspiration!

  9. For me, the great new adventure has been the blog-o-sphere. My Son set me up with a simple free Word Press site on Thanksgiving, showed me some basic photo-shop, and it's been off to the races since then.
    Great fun.

  10. My recent great adventure was learning to drive stick shift. I wrote about it at http://eastofparis.blogspot.com/2010/07/good-bye-mini-good-bye.html Which leads to the current adventure: transitioning from the full time practice of law to early retirement. That's one reason I started blogging. The other aspects of the transition are to continue to have a productive life without working in a traditional full-time job. I'll keep checking your blog for its intelligent and common sense perspectives.

  11. Bob,
    I guess my biggest adventure is blogging and posturing. I'm impressed with your other readers. On my next list is snowshoeing in the mountains.

  12. Hansi,

    Glad your son helped you enter the world of blogging. It really is fun and is a great creative outlet.


    Thanks so much for the compliments. Moving from law to early retirement certainly qualifies as an adventure. After a decade at this retirement game I can assure you a productive and exciting life is absolutely doable.


    Blogging and snowshoeing...maybe you can combine the two. I don't think anyone else is in that niche yet.

  13. Great post. Your writing is getting better by the post! The book is beginning to form!

    We did many adventures as "youngsters". Travel, food, crazy sports. Our new adventure is trying to live and be in the moment- slowing things down a bit. It has become an adventure as we each choose activities that weave into the others'. Being with each other, after working too many hours, is an adventure in and of itself!

  14. Thanks so much for the compliment, Janette. I'm not quite sure what exactly will be in the e-book but this post has generated enough comments it may be included.

    Living in the moment...sounds glorious. The last month has been brutal around here, with the passing of my Mom, and then my Dad collapsed at her memorial service Saturday. He is fine but the stress level has been off the charts.

    This morning, Betty and I decided to call today a day off. We slept in late, went to Starbucks for coffee and reading the paper, plan on watching a movie in the middle of the day (!), and watching the BCS football game tonight.

    Any calls not of an emergency nature will be dealt with tomorrow. Deep breathes and activities that please us, not stress us, will be today's goal.


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