I recently received Christmas presents that were both exiting and agitating, ironically for the same reason: it made me thirst for adventure (This is of course a good thing and I am thankful for the wonderful gifts!). While I doubt my friends were intending to make such a statement, the best inspiration should be uncomfortable. For the last couple of years I have been back “in the real world.” I am in a good place and also happy to be employed these days, but that alone does not quench the fire-egg that is seeking to ignite the next adventure.
After all “…adventures don’t come calling like unexpected cousins calling from out of town. You have to go looking for them.” I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the certainties of life, and wild ideas that conflict a rational path to a secure future. I tend to think of life as a clear distinction between two trains of thoughts:
1) Life is hard, be prepared, and take no action which could compromise or jeopardize a comfortable future
2) Life is short, you get one shot, don’t squander it on certainty
I like to think I’ve been doing a decent job of finding balance recently, my eyes are only wild with satisfaction when I am consuming a flood of uncertainty, and I believe that is the purpose of living. I don’t mean being haphazard (I’ve been down that path and have learned that while mistakes will be made, nothing is exciting enough to justify a moment of anganorisis). I’m talking about chasing down the grand ideas that I presume inspired many of us as children. I don’t think anyone wants to grow up and be bland, but the irony is that the differentiation that sets us apart seems to be the same thing that can leave us at a disadvantage: taking chances. The fact is, most people who “abandon everything and do what they love” or “sell everything to start a business” (or similar pursuits) don’t seem to succeed and would have been better off making the most of what they had. While I don’t think anyone who makes these decisions sets out to fail, the fact is that in order to reap the bounty of uncertainty, one must set sail from a safe harbor (but after all, isn’t that what ships are for?).
So…what caused all of this ruckus? Two books:
1: 101 Ways to Die in the Outdoors
I believed I had generally been on a good path, and looking forward to a relatively uneventful future. All seemed well, until these books came along, reminding me that I’m likely to die of something boring like organ failure, or a car accident, or cancer (and everyone knows that it is way cooler if you break an arm falling of a cliff, as opposed to say falling off of a curb…hint, my birthday is coming up). Since your obituary gets written for you, I think it is one’s duty to give the author something to write about! In short, the first book simply reminded me that “we’ll become silhouettes when our bodies finally go,” and it would be way cooler to die doing something awesome, than from having sat around for a few decades being lame. Simply put, I am finding that I may have been succumbing to the daily grind: as content as I am, I think I’m leaning towards a lame death! Now, I like to think that I’m savvy enough that I could avoid being eaten by an alligator…but what a reminder that there is no time like the present to stoke those coals of adventure.
2: 50 Places to Dive Before You Die
I fell in love with SCUBA in Borneo, and you might have noticed a theme in my writing…I find the ocean to be both a source of inspiration and adventure. My awesome shower-curtain reminds me that there are so many places on the surface of this earth that I haven’t even had a chance to form an opinion about, yet more than 2/3 of our big blue marble is covered in water, the depths of which extend far deeper than the tallest mountain. Add to that people who are going out of their way to make it even more interesting, and there’s just no way I’ll get around to seeing it all. Although I have been fortunate enough to have checked one dive site off of that list, there’s a whole lot of world (above and below the surface) that I have yet to see.
It is true that so many sources can be catalysts for imagination. Thank you for the thoughtful and inspiring gifts; now I just need to find satiation in 2013!