When I was 18 years old a friend and I loaded our kayaks on my van and headed to Jackson Hole for 5 days to play in the river. We had spent a lot of time there growing up and felt like we knew everything to do. But after 3 days of paddling, the flows were not cooperating and we were ready for a change of activity. We stopped into the local shop to talk to a friend that had been living in Jackson for a few years. The conversation went like this:
ME: “Hey dude, what do you do when no play waves are in on the river?”
FRIEND: “Do you guys have some swim goggles?”
ME: “No. Of course not.”
FRIEND: “Bummer. Cause when I get bored, I like to dive down to the bottom of eddies in the river and then swim out towards the current and let it zoom me off down river like a speeding fish!”
ME: “ Wow! I would never think of that. I don’t want to do it. But way to be creative.”
At the time I was laughing on the inside at my friend. I was so focused on only doing “cool” things that I had seen others do and I knew looked fun. I never took the time to think of something completely out of the box. Over the next 12 years my attitude and focus on adventure would change completely. Today I might consider a trip to Jackson with just my swim goggles and leave my kayak at home.
A young aspiring artist might go to the Louvre or the MET to stare at the works of masters. While they are there a reoccurring thought about what their potential is and what they will one day be able to create runs through their head. They are not thinking about ways to copy a master and create a beautiful portrait of women so they can name it the Mona Lucy. They are thinking about their own masterpiece.
Everyday at work I see requests for support from people who are about to embark on an adventure. I am always looking to see if they inspire me and make the gears in my head turn. In my eyes adventures are about creating an unforgettable experience. It is about doing something unique and making people tilt their head in wonder when you explain it to them. It does not have to be big and require a year of planning and preparation. The only requirement for adventure is that it needs to inspire you to get after it. It will cause your creative juices to flow and your heart rate to increase just thinking about the possibilities. What makes an adventure an adventure is that it is unique to the pursuer. That you cannot google it and find all the answers. Wikipedia will not tell you how to have an adventure. And you can’t pull your recipe book out of cupboard just to make sure you have all the ingredients.
Today we can almost find information anywhere we look. I have a question, I ask my phone. I wonder if anyone has ever done something, I google it. We are an info rich culture. So when I search “Climbing in the Tetons” I am bombarded with ads, offers, and trip reports from people who are willing to sell me on an adventure. I am glad people are able to make money showing people magical places. But I get more excited when I search something and very little pertinent info come up. That tells me there is a blank canvas. An opportunity for my mind to run wild. Whether you hire a guide, or find a trusted friend to show you how, the important thing is that you have the opportunity for your dreams to run wild and your thoughts to wander about all the possibilities. Then you choose to pursue them. There is a reason why the popular books from my childhood were called “Choose Your Own Adventure” and not “Participate in your Prescribed, Mass Produced Activity”
Of my most memorable adventures over the past decade, some big and some small, they stand out because they were unique and memorable from concept to completion. They required research, creativity, and changing plans in the moment. And at some point in preparing for it, at least one person told me they thought it was crazy, dumb or a waste of time. Not one of these adventures went totally as planned but everyone of them ended better than expected. To me, they became baby ideas that were conceived and then born, and then became my precious little memories that no one will ever be able to convince me were a bad idea.
Don’t get sucked into the world’s idea of what an adventure should look like. Look at a way to do it differently and do it. In the words of Yann Martel “Be excessively reasonable and you risk throwing out the universe with the bathwater”.
Show me your creative side and share some ideas for adventures. If your idea makes my heart skip a beat, I will work with you to make it happen. You just have to promise to take me with you!