My favorite definition of the word “adventure” is:
An unusual and exiting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
So much meat on that bone. All manner of potential and variations hiding in there. Maybe your idea of an adventure is more conservative than mine. Or my adventures are too boring for you. The definition is open to individual interpretation. But we each inherently know the difference between our daily lives and an “adventure.”
Day by day, most of our waking hours can easily be consumed by work or school or kids or a combination of all three. Occasionally we might get a break. And how do we use that time? Usually decompressing. One way or another. Maybe on the computer. More and more likely on our phone. Maybe there is a bit too much eating involved. Maybe some drinks. Maybe we just sleep because that’s our only reasonable escape from everything else. And then, whenever our game or nap or weekend of binging pizza and Netflix is over, we repeat the whole cycle again. And again.
An adventure is the opposite of that. Something different than our daily norm. Something that challenges us mentally, physically, or socially. And within the confines of that challenge, there might be some form or risk. Great or small.
Most of us are not running from bears or stalking gazelle across vast plains to feed and clothe our needy tribe. Our voyage home is never blocked by philosophical cyclops or lotus eaters. We aren’t usually searching for arks or grails. And none of us actually get letters from owls inviting us to magical boarding schools. But we have thousands of generations worth of amazing capabilities hunting and gathering and competing abilities built into our bodies and minds. All of which are being used today to…squint at text messages and videos of cats on ever shrinking screens.
The New Normal does not encourage adventure. The New Normal does not welcome any heroes. The New Normal is predicated on you eating your two fast food meals per day in between sitting at your desk forty-five hours per week or sitting on the sofa watching a seven-foot screen for thirty hours per week. When you don’t feel well, there are plenty of pills to fix you, with only a few side effects per pill. When you are feeling tired, there are 14,000 Starbucks available to prepare your $8 coffee, or 154,535 convenience stores available with an average of eighteen different types of Energy Drinks to boost your heart rate until you are ready for bed. And when you are not feeling tired, the New Normal is to take a sleeping pill each night, which now includes upwards of 1 in 3 Americans.
In the 21st Century, adventure is not coming to us. We’re shielded from it. Instead, we have to go down the Post-Normal path. We have to purposely (maybe cautiously) go to the adventure on our own.
An adventure could challenge you physically. An adventure could challenge you mentally. It could expose you to new experiences. It could introduce you to new people. Or an adventure could potentially positively affect your world view.
An adventure can be short, an hour or half a day. An adventure could be long, a weekend or a week or more.
Spontaneous is hard to do. Since few of us are randomly recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada, we must seek out adventure. This often requires advanced planning on our part, assembling our crew and getting our hero’s weapons prepared. Just like we meal prep, in a Post-Normal lifestyle we have to adventure prep. Otherwise it is naps and Netflix and a microwave bag full of unpopped kernals and regret.
Ultimately and often, our lives are most engaged when we make time to be brave, challenge ourselves, and embrace our journey.