“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” ― Howard Phillips Lovecraft
I’d like you to think about what humans have accomplished for a second.
We’ve ridden across Earth’s great land masses, built ships to sail across the seas, invented machines that can take us to the depths of the oceans, into space, and now–thanks in part to modern paragliding gear–we’re able to hike and fly across entire mountain ranges, powered only by the elements.
We were meant to explore. Born to discover. If we want to experience life at its most wonderful, we need to adventure.
For a long time, though, I felt a lack of it... and it made me miserable. My guess is that there are thousands of others who are also experiencing the very same void. Maybe you are too.
But the truth is, I’m not surprised.
Today's norms make it too easy to get stuck chasing comforts. And to experience adventure is to confront the unknown, voluntarily choose discomfort, and to push personal boundaries.
Before you get too excited, I don’t promise any answers with this one. I simply followed the white rabbit to see what would come of it.
Maybe the next few paragraphs inspire a new perspective. Maybe not.
I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Is it worth it?
At a glance, it’s easy to think of adventuring as this unreasonably risky activity better left for the “crazies”. But if we look past first impressions and avoid over simplistic definitions, the question that begs to be asked is, do we really gain anything meaningful from adventuring? I mean, is it really worth the sacrifices?
Of course, it's worth it!
Relationships, character, new skills, and the confidence to take on new challenges are just a few of the possible gains. You don't need to quit your job to start adventuring either, nor does it need to be as committing as the Thermal Crossings project. A simple weekend camping trip, or publishing your first article might do just fine. That said, adventuring is a deeply personal experience and how it is put into practise will differ from one person to the next.
So long as you are pushing your own comfort zone, though, I believe it will always deliver.
Yet despite it being a catalyst for life-changing epiphanies, personal growth, and amazing experiences, there are still many who aren't doing it...
Why is that?
For years, I believed that those who weren't doing it (despite wanting too) were paralyzed by a fear of the unknown. However, I recently stumbled upon the idea that fear of the unknown has less to do with the unknown than I first thought. Instead, it has everything to do with the known...loosing it to be more specific.
It’s a fear in disguise. Think about it. You’ll often feel it when deciding whether or not to quit a job, owning up to a mistake, or booking a flight ticket somewhere you’ve never been before. This is because those decisions impact your ability to maintain the present known.
Right now, for example, you’d know exactly where to go grab pizza if you were hungry, or what you’d need to do at work to continue getting paychecks. When on a real adventure, though, you on some level are risking these knowns, and choosing to figure it out along the way. That’s a scary experience if you aren't used to it, but if your life lacks adventure, and if it's making you miserable, then this fear is just something you're going to have to contend with.
The tricky thing about fear is it will often happen on a subconscious level, and therefore, is hard to spot. But look hard enough, and you'll be surprised just how much it influences the way we are living our lives, or should I say, the way we aren't living them!
The caveat no one is talking about
“That’s the whole meaning of life isn’ it, trying to find a place for your stuff…” – George Carlin
Most of us mortals have to hustle to live, and that means that on some level we need to work. This makes falling into a routine unavoidable. Eventually, doing the same chores over and over again becomes tiresome, so we begin the perpetual search to make life easier by purchasing conveniences. Before long we’re caught into a cycle of “effortless living”, one small purchase at a time. Welcome to the 21st-century consumerism.
Unless we go through the gut wrenching process of proper goal setting and looking for purpose, this never ending search for the simple, easy, and effortless becomes the goal, and that’s where life goes wrong for many people. I call this the BIG delusion.
Let's just face it, happiness is hard. But I believe it is a skill, and it requires asking lots of hard questions, challenge, constantly working on becoming a better human, and learning to put others first, all which can be experienced when on an adventure… It’s simply a lot easier to live under the belief that comfort equals happiness because mindlessly chasing money then makes sense, and buying stuff we don’t really need gives us a false sense of purpose.
But happiness doesn't work like that, and this lesson is one we will all learn one way or another. Some later than others…
I’m not saying that buying stuff with the intention of making life easier is a bad thing. I’m just highlighting that the nuances of modern Western society have created a caveat, which is that it has become dangerously easy to spend life chasing comforts, instead of the experiences that lead to fulfilled living. And in my opinion, that could be what’s standing between you and your next adventure.
Where to from here...
As I said at the start, my goal with this post wasn't to prescribe a solution.
The goal was to share a belief that adventuring is a key ingredient to happiness, and if you aren't doing it (despite feeling a desire too), it is not entirely your fault. Unfortunately, the world we’re living in makes choosing to adventure an irrational decision because we’re in many ways brought up to prioritize comforts, and adventuring means putting those known comforts at risk...
These ideas might seem far-fetched, oversimplified, or ill-defined, but these are the very beliefs that keep me from spinning my own wheels. They are my reason for minimalist living. And they help guide me when I’m lost.
I wrote this because I hoped these ideas might help you too, or at least, serve as a starting point for some enquiry of your own.
Thanks for your reading.