August 15, 2017

Retirement and Adventure: An Uncommon Couple?


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. Thunder Mountain at Disneyland is about my speed. Financially, my wife and I are conservative. Our possessions are quite mainstream. When we vacation we make standard choices like Hawaii or the Pacific Northwest.  Going to Tibet or the rain forest of the Amazon aren't really on our radar, though next year we will break out a bit with a river cruise in Europe.

So, why a post about adding adventure to your life? Primarily, I need to listen to the message. Also, adventure has a much broader definition than is usually assigned to the word. It doesn't have to just involve physical activities. Adventure is what being alive is about. This subject also seems like a sensible follow up to the post based on two quotes that ran last month.

Why Be Adventurous?

What are the possible gains if you decide to embrace a more adventurous life? 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 know a man 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 will 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.

Here is an example that I just added to my adventure palette: restoring vintage radios. I have bought a few radios from the 1930s and 40s. I find them pretty to look at. The wooden cases are beautifully crafted. Even more fun is actually getting them to work. 

I have the tools I should need and an excellent source of "how-to" steps. What I don't have is all the technical knowledge to be sure I will be able to repair and restore them. But, I am going to give it a shot. The worst that happens? I have invested a few hundred dollars in something that won't work but is still nice to look at. Whether these 70 year old radios work is almost beside the point. The effort is the adventure. 

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?


48 comments:

  1. Physically speaking, backpacking the Grand Canyon for six days and nights in 2015, at age 53, is my biggest adventure to date. Even though Mike (then 60) and I had trained very hard for months, I was absolutely terrified I wouldn't be able to keep up with our group and would be the designated weak link. I was so terrified in fact, I almost stayed back at the National Park lodge to wait instead. I can't tell you how happy I am that I resisted my fears and proceeded with that backpack because the adventures we had once we dropped down into the Grand Canyon with ten other wilderness loving backpackers plus two highly skilled (!) leaders, became one of the highlights of my life. I often think what a tragedy it would have been If I'd given in to my unfounded fears and quit.

    A bit less dramatic, our recent location from the town where we'd lived for 25 years to a home near the ocean has been quite the adventure. We'd come close twice before to making the move, but paused each time due to fear of change, and the enormity of the work involved. That we didn't this time, and actually carried through with the move still surprises us both, I think. Here just slightly over one month, we are already settling in and sinking new roots. And best of all, we can see the ocean in the distance from our home, a surprise bonus we'd never expected due to our willingness to take on a fixer upper, yet another adventure. I'm likewise so glad we pushed through our fears and made the move here, rather than sticking with the safer, easier choice of staying put. We'll be stimulated by our new area for years to come as we seek out all it has to offer.

    Saying 'Yes' from a place of slight discomfort or fear generally results in my most meaningful life events, so I try my best to resist those little whispers whenever they arise, and proceed anyway. I'm always so very, very glad when I do!

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    1. You and Mike rate very high on the adventure-meter scale of life. A snow survival/backpack trip sould make that list, too. Since fear is often irrational or overblown in these endeavors, pushing through those restrictions has served you two well. Others should feel inspired to try.

      I start small. We are going to Disneyland with the grandkids in a few days. I have agreed to ride Space Mountain, one step above Thunder Mountain on the roller coaster scale of frightening. For someone who dislikes these rides, this is a big deal for me.

      Agreeing to be stuck in a metal tube for 14 hours on flights to Europe next May is another small step for man, a big step for me. After a lifetime of business travel, I hate flying, and I hate what flying has become. Even so, I am assuming I will survive and thrive. Big adventure!

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    2. I am right there with you re: flying. I fight through the fear because the end destination is generally worth it.

      You are going to love your river cruise! So much more relaxing than big ship cruising. And the free wine at dinner is pretty nice too. 😊

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  2. Ha! My life has been one adventure after another, and I've surprised myself every time! How to pick one? So I'll pick the most recent one. A couple of weeks ago, I started a kundalini yoga class. As you know, my interest lies more in martial arts. I am more comfortable walking into a place with weapons on the wall rather than mandalas. However, I decided to try the kundalini yoga after someone suggested it. A little weird for me--chanting and breath of fire. But I really like it. Go figure.

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    1. I will say until my dying breath that your life story should be an HBO movie. You have lived a life so full of twists and turns...an inspiration to those of us who know your story.

      I have no idea what kundalini yoga is, but you know me - I will Google it now.

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    2. Too funny. So who would play me in the movie? My sister and I have joked about a movie about our mom with Shirley MacLaine playing Mom, but we couldn't cast ourselves. Any ideas?

      Of course, an HBO movie about me would be just as unsuccessful as one about my mom. My sister and I agree that no one would believe it.

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    3. I am thinking of Jennifer Garner, Drew Barrymore, or Cameron Diaz for your movie. Having never met your mom, I will go with your suggestion.

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    4. Oh my gosh, Bob, I am loving you so much right now!

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    5. Well, now I want to know Galen's story ! I also enjoy yoga, metaphysics.Ken was a black belt many years ago.. Galen,any chance you will write it??

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    6. So kundalini yoga involves harnessing female energy in the spine and meditating. Is that close to being right?

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    7. Bob, I don't know about the association with female energy. The teacher said that kundalini means consciousness. There is an imagery associated with kundalini of a snake coiled at the base of the spine (a good snake!) which, when released, moves up the spine and awakens consciousness. Beyond that, I don't know.

      Madeline, thanks for your interest. I wouldn't even know how to start it, but I do have a title for it. Unfortunately it includes a swear word, so I can't put it on Bob's blog!

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  3. Hi Bob! I must admit I am an adventurer at heart. My favorite quote of all is Helen Keller when she said, "Life is an adventure, or nothing!" But I do agree that we all find our adventures in different ways. Whatever it is that takes us out of our comfort zone is and adventure. We must keep stretching and growing as we go or we become stagnant...and like Emerson said, become desperate and die with the music still in us. Far better to adventure out no matter what our age. ~Kathy

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    1. I am happy I found information on senior adventures that raised the point about even trying foreign cuisine is adventurous. It does need to be things that test our physical limits to qualify.

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  4. My summer to-do list included saying "yes" vs "no". In my lifetime, I've had a few adventures that I was hesitant about at first. I remember going on a guided white-water rafting excursion on the Snake River in Colorado, fearful that I would be dumped into the river and never retrieved. The guide was reassuring when he said that I may be dumped into the river but they would retrieve me. My son was laughing at me at my sedate choice of activities at a beach resort, to which I replied, "Well, I'm not going parasailing!" In fact, I did go parasailing and zip-lining. I designed my own house and had it built; no small feat. When helping my chuckwagon driving friend, I drove a truck pulling a 5-horse 5th wheel trailer. When I asked what I needed to know, I was told to "take the corners wide" minutes before we took off. Yes, there have been adventures. My sister says - you're not scared of anything. Yes, I'm scared but I do it anyway, always mindful of my abilities and limitations.

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    1. The other rule for 5th wheel vehicles...back up carefully and turn the wheel the "wrong" way!

      I'd say you have put a few notches in your adventure belt. Good for you.

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  5. Talked husband into jet skiing a couple of weeks back. He's a conservative 75 year old but suddenly drove like he was 16. I was on the back. He hit a small wave at the wrong angle sending us both into the drink. We were very far from shore but managed to retrieve the ski and climbed back on. But it took us 15 minutes to get on and I'm sure we looked like ancient walruses climbing onto a buoy. Husband says that is his last "in the water" adventure. From now on he wants to be out of the water and on the boat. I asked him if he wanted to go zip lining with me in Hawaii next month. His reply. "I'll stand by and hold your purse."

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    1. Funny story. I have never been zip-lining but want to. Every time we have been in a place that offered it, the cost was too high or the weather bad.

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  6. Not to sound facetious, but sometimes I think people get their ideas from me.
    For example:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lso71TyR4-s

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    1. 3 RVs to get the perfect match...that should win an award for dedication to the goal.

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    2. Hi Bob. We're looking forward to all the fun we are going to have. It took us a few times to get it right....and away we go!
      Thanks for all you do! Retirement and adventure=the perfect couple!

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  7. Hi Bob, since retirement we've travel a lot to Mexico and Europe but my current "adventurous" thing is to hike the length of the Bruce Trail in Ontario Canada (about 900KM or 560 miles). I knew when I retired a couple of years ago that I wanted to try hiking and my first true hiking experience was in the mountains of Mexico. I was a rank amateur newbie and these were "intermediate" hike of about 4 hours or so but even though I was way out of shape it confirmed to me that this is something I would like to do.

    When we were back home I joined the hiking group at the local senior's centre and was heading out twice a week with them, nice hikes on local trails. Then I heard about a sub-group for End-To-End'ers who were hiking the entire Bruce Trail. I figured I'd give it a go and now I have over 500KM completed.

    It's done in 15KM sections at least once a week, though for the farther away sections we do 3 day hikes with overnights back at the motel (we're not totally uncivilized). I am enjoying the hiking, it's given me a goal, I'm outdoors getting exercise, and with a great group of people.

    It's been a fabulous experience and I recommend it to anyone so inclined, it really is something anyone can do. With the proper gear I've surprised myself how terrible weather and so on doesn't really seem to get in the way.

    For next June we've booked a 10 day hiking holiday in Ireland so that's another adventure we are looking forward to.

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    1. Am curious which trekking company you use? We've used Sherpa Walking Holidays previously, but always looking for good recommendations in that we have two walks we want to do in the next couple of years (Coast to Coast across England, and the Camino de Santiago in Spain).

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    2. Hi Tamara, I booked my Ireland hiking trip with Comfortable Hiking http://www.letshike.com/ but it's the first time I've booked with them (or anyone, this will be my first guided holiday) so I can't say one way or the other. Friends I hike with seem to like them but that's all I have so far.

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    3. I'm glad you could answer Tamara's question. She and her husband are real hikers, too. I enjoy hiking through pretty parks and natural settings but have never had the "bug" to do long distances. But, you seem to have found a passion and that is great!

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  8. Very timely post, at least for me. Ken and I are adventurous to a lesser degree than the "world travelers" out there..we like travel, but in smaller doses, and have found we enjoy shorter trips. Ken will do physically challenging stuff like hike the Grand Canyon with our son, every couple of years, and go scuba diving.Me, I have not got that "scary stuff" gene..I snorkel,swim (doggie paddle) and enjoy mild hiking and bicycling on flat trails.THAT FEELS ADVENTUROUS TO ME! It's all about your own emotional/excitement nature, I think.I have always got a LOTTA BANG FOR THE BUCK out of light adventure and have NO DESIRE to hike Macchu Picchu or to experience what it is like to live in a third world country. IMy adventures are often of the mind! I LOVE learning new things, doing research, and reading,studying history, politics, taking a writing or real estate class, etc.. Our son tells me I am not having enough "fun" sometimes (HE IS AN ADVENTURER AND WORLD TRAVELER!) .. But I have as much fun as I can stand!!!!! And it takes much less to thrill me,I notice, than some.A blessing,I would say! Less expensive too.

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    1. Your son has the conventional view of adventure: it should involve some physical trials and putting yourself in different and difficult circumstances. I believe adventure can be hiking Machu Picchu, going back to school, learning to play a musical instrument, or biking through a pretty park. To each his own. Anything that brings a bit of freshness and newness to your life qualifies.

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    2. Bob, thank you for keeping such an open mind about what constitutes adventure. This broader definition is especially important for anyone who faces on-going health issues and must be mindful about physical limitations or suffer either health setbacks or permanent damage.

      As someone who is healing a back injury, many of my adventures fall in the mind and the arts, like learning new ways to cook, paint, and exploring new music styles. Healing is also a great adventure because I have to respect my limits and let the healing happen, it cannot be forced. After years of ignoring or "pushing thru" my body's symptoms, I must be open and responsive to them. This takes courage, determination, and mindfulness, all new to me in this context, and therefore a huge adventure.

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  9. After reading this I put together the paperwork to renew our passports. We have not been out of the country since...1996! From1986-96 we traveled to many countries. and did some wild things (hike volcanos, crash motorcycles, sip beers in the Empty Quarter, get locked into an airport, eat yak butter, experience typhoons, hurricanes and earthquakes). This time we plan on taking easy adventures. First one will be his first trip to DisneyWorld with the grands. I'll be walking Hadrian's Wall in a bit more then a year. He plans on taking pictures in Petra. We are finally back to the "What the heck, you only live once!" time of our lives. My job this year is to convince him that next year we should fly around the world in cargo jets. If we have to fly, we need to be able to walk around!

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    1. What a treasure trove of stories you must have. Getting locked in an airport, eating yak butter, living through a typhoon...that is definitely adventurous for our younger selves. Now, a trip to Orlando and a hike along Hadrian's Wall in England.....that feels about right.

      But, hold it...fly around the world in cargo jets? I didn't even know that was possible.

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  10. I just want to see more of the USA!!!!!!!! The Carolinas, Savannah,Charleston, Montana! More and more of the Pacific Northwest. Monticello Lodge, Blue Ridge mountains, return to Hawaii, see Denver and Boulder,Co.Have never been to Bryce Canyon or Zion!

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    1. You and Ken need to take a few serious road trips (and a flight to Hawaii). Every place you mention is a must. Bryce and Zion are stunning....only a long day's drive or two easy days away!

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    2. Can I say a special yes to Savannah and Chaleston, I always thought that's were I would retire until my kids moved inland. I really do think Savannah is about the best city anywhere. And west Montana, not east, And YES, my blog looks to have been hacked and I am working on it folks. From the car, in the tExas heat. It is impossible to speak to a real Google person apparantly, so I may end up just chaning the domain name-oh Joy!!

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    3. I had a business client in Billings, which is in eastern Montana. It is rather stark and treeless. You are quite right: Western Montana is powerful and pretty. I was happy when I visited the clients in Missoula and Great Falls.

      Sorry to hear of the hacking, but that puts you in very good company.

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    4. Barbara: I have removed your blog from the blogroll list due to the hacking. As soon as you are settled at a new domain let me know so I can add you back!

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    5. AGGGG! What happened to Barbara!!!! NOOOOO!

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    6. She is on vacation but found out her blog had been hacked. If you try to access it now it is gone. Knowing her, when she returns from her trip she will find a new hosting site and be back at it.

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  11. Although entering retirement gave me fear and trepidation, I have managed to survive quite well. Recently we did some white water rafting that was a bit out of my comfort zone but, in the end, I was so glad I did it and am looking forward to the next trip. Great post!

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    1. White water rafting is something I've never experienced. Maybe a level 2 or 3 rapids, but you'll never find me at a level 5 experience!

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  12. We still love motorcycling, which to some is adventurous I suppose. Love roller coasters; the higher, the steeper, the faster, the better (speaking of which, we need to plan a trip to Cedar Point). Have done bungee-jumping in the good old days, over blacktop parking lots from high construction cranes, before the insurance companies ruined it. Even at 63 I'm game for just about anything; Deb not so much. Whatever gets the heart racing in anticipation is good.

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    1. I have had a few motorcycling lovers pop up in some of the recent posts. I was hoping you'd be here, too.

      From what I understand Cedar Point is the roller coaster lover's version of heaven.

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  13. I think that the older we get the more we have to remember, as you suggest, that adventure is NOT the same as dangerous. I just signed up for a photography course, and will have to present a portfolio at the end of the class ... that's making my pulse quicken a bit.

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    1. A perfect example, Tom. Adventurous means doing something that is different and has some degree of challenge to it. Having a photography portfolio available for review and critique qualifies.

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  14. For me it is probably visiting all 50 States with my camera in hand. Of course that was a multi-year thing. Or maybe it was my extended stay in Guadalajara during my corporate life. I think anything that gets you out of your comfort zone should be considered an adventure.

    Sadly too many people today are voluntarily stuck where they are both physically and intellectually. They simply will not make the effort to experience different ways to see or do things.

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    1. You are so right: too many of us have drawn a line in the sand that we will not cross even though crossing that line might mean gaining the satisfaction of doing something fresh.

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  15. Retirement and Adventure: An Uncommon Couple? I don't think so, Adding adventure to your life can come in various forms like travelling, visiting water pearls, fun parks, etc. with your better half. All these activities removes stress from the mind and create a healthy mind.

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  16. I am fairly adventurous. Some examples across my lifetime include: multiday wildness backpacking and canoe trips, bicycle touring, mountain biking on mountain trails (NOT extreme ones), backcountry skiing, 6 week camping trips as a single mom with kids, backpacking across Europe for a summer, applying for and accepting a challenging senior executive position that really stretched me, and publishing a book of poetry. I think it has a lot to do with mind set -- saying "yes" to life, as you point out.

    I am a shy person, and when I was a teenager having a tough time in a new junior high school, I found myself avoiding social situations and becoming more and more isolated. I made a rule for myself that my default response to any invitation would be "yes" rather than "no" in order to force myself to be more outgoing and involved. (I was allowed to modify the answer to "no" if, on reflection, I decided the proposed activity was too dangerous -- e.g., riding in the back of a pickup truck with a drunk driver). I believe that the strategy of saying yes opened me to experiences and a more adventurous life.

    Jude

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    1. That is an excellent suggestion. If your default answer is in the affirmative, with the possibility of changing later, so many things we might miss could happen to and for us. Great idea, Jude.

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