Adventures help you remember who you are, why you’re here, and who you were meant to become.
When I was a little kid, my dad would often pile us kids into the station wagon for road trips. I’d get so excited when we got onto the highway heading west. For me, a kid from suburban New Jersey west meant adventure.
My first fishing trip occurred the year we were living in Florida. I was about ten and a friend’s family invited me along. I have no idea if I caught anything. Many decades later, I remember the happiness of standing on the edge of a south Florida coral reef late at night. I had a reel in one hand, a bologna and potato chip sandwich in the other, and an inky dark sky above me.
I soon started hiking and camping in Girl Scouts. I joined Explorer Scouts in high school. We backpacked portions of the Appalachian trail, hiked the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, and canoed down the Delaware River. I joined the Ecology club to learn more about the geology and geography of the area and head out for more day trips.
My exploits continued with an adventure to Outward Bound In North Carolina when I was 17. OB was physically and mentally grueling. We hiked up to 20 miles in a day, often in circles, with 40-pound packs on our backs. I’d be in agony from the blisters on my feet. When we canoed the Little Toe River, I often ran the rapids on my back with an oar in hand instead of in the canoe. I still have scars from rock-climbing because I fell eight times on my first pitch. Later, the extreme stress on my body caused a temporary paralysis of my arm. And yet, I never felt so alive in my life.
As an adult, I moved to Arizona. Part of the reason was to be able to enjoy more hiking, backpacking, and road trips. I had a plethora of activities and sites to see within a day’s drive. Eventually, these trips became fewer and farther between. I got caught up with work and family life. I forgot who I was and what I was created to do and be.
Recently, I moved to Southern California. Even though I’m middle-aged and out of shape, I began to hear the call of the wild again. I started reading about trails in my area and began to venture out – first with local hiking clubs, later on my own. My confidence grew as I took on more difficult hikes. I’d be thrilled as I stood on a ridge watching a winter storm move in, the clouds descending, hovering, just above my reach. I have deserts teeming with life, mountain meadows littered with wildflowers in spring, and deeply carved canyons of rainbow-colored rock in my backyard that I know regularly get out to experience.
It’s so easy for us to forget about the adventure we need in our lives. I don’t mean the adventure of going back to school, moving across the country, or starting a family. I mean the real, get out in the wild, fear for your life, kind of adventure. I wouldn’t suggest anyone become reckless or that risking your life is worth an adventure. But I do believe we are made for more than sitting behind a desk or on a living room couch day in and day out.
Here’s why I think men need to pursue more adventure in their lives:
You will learn to face and overcome your fears.
You will experience greater rewards associated with risks.
You will feel alive when you encounter a bighorn sheep on the ridge above you, a summer monsoon, or the fatigue that comes from a difficult climb.
You will enjoy camaraderie and the pleasure of shared experiences with the ones you venture into the wilds with.
It will help you endure the mundane as you re-enter civilization and normal days.
It will open opportunities to learn and practice new skills.
You will grow emotionally stronger when you struggle beyond your limits.
It’s a great way to grow closer to God or your higher power when you are closer to creation.
You experience a sense of freedom and wonder as you become a part of nature.
So what is stopping you from getting out into nature and living your adventure? Your adventure doesn’t have to be as epic as climbing Mt. Whitney or backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail. It will depend on the season of life you’re in and your level of experience and comfort. Small adventures have the same effect as the more exhilarating ones. The destination is seldom the prize. It’s in the journey we experience the thrill, beauty, and maturity.
Adventure is not solely about conquering or winning or being the first, otherwise people wouldn’t continue to climb Everest. The desire for adventure is part of our being. Even Jack London, author of The Call of The Wild said, “It was in the Klondike I found myself.”
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