The Spirit of Adventure
The call for adventure has saturated our media. From Facebook to Tinder, people aspire to be “adventurers”. It seems every post is hashtagged with “wanderlust”, “granola”, and “adventure seeker”. “Not all who wander are lost” is scrolled across photos of countless instagrams. It seems like everywhere you look someone else has decided to label themselves “outdoorsy”.This longing for adventure calls a host of personalities and professionals. But perhaps we have lost a sense of what true adventure is.
Scores of writers and speakers have defined adventure in their own unique way. Google “adventure quotes”. You find over 1500 quotes concerning adventure. I'm sure you could find half of a dozen official definitions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. But we all know what adventure is when we come across it- without anyone telling us. But what draws us to it? What do we hope to gain? And what does it entail?
Consider, the typical family vacation. Months in advance, plane tickets are purchased, hotels are booked, and routes are mapped. When the trip arrives, the family knows when and where they are going to eat, sleep, and take family photos. A perfectly enjoyable and worthwhile trip to spend with your family, but it hardly qualifies as an adventure. We can all relate to this family on some level, whether you have taken week long vacations with your families to exotic locations or you have just taken day trips to a nearby park with friends. We see pictures of these typical vacations in the scrapbooks of our neighbors, on the Facebook walls of people we rarely see, and even within our own homes. But few of us would qualify them as adventures. We are drawn to the idea of adventure on account of the unique experience it provides, the opportunity to triumph through adversity, and walking into the unknown.
The population of the world is roughly 7 billion. According to the United States Parachute Association, roughly 3.5 million skydive jumps occur in 2015. Many of these jumps are conducted by the same individuals. Even if we assumed each jump was a different individual, this would mean 0.0005% of the world skydived in 2015. While scrolling through my social media feed, I saw picture of a friend I hadn’t seen in long time in front of an airplane. The caption read, “I jumped out of a plane at several thousand feet today. What did you do today?” I thought to myself, “That’s epic. What an adventure that would be!” It was a fairly unique experience. My friend can now join a group that is roughly 0.0005% of the population.
But adventure isn’t just about the uniqueness. It’s also about overcoming the hardships that come along your way. G.K Chesterton said, “ An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” A true adventurer does not cease their travels when they encounter obstacles. The fifth rule for mountain bikers is (censored),” Harden the #@$! Up!”. When the path gets hard, and you are tired, and you want to tap out...Rule number five. Have you ever read a story without any hardship? It’s boring and predictable. But a story where you feel proud for having made it through and for staying the course, now that’s an adventure.
Perseverance in the face of adversity is not an easy path for most people. It requires a positive raditude. A positive raditude sees inconveniences, as Mr. Cherston said, and rightly considered it as an adventure.
Many individuals are born with an innate positive raditude. For others, such as myself, it has to be fostered first. How do you achieve a positive raditude? By surrounding yourself with people who already have it and by changing your perception of hardships through experience. Roughly a year ago, I had the privilege of going on a trip with a group of friends. Most in the group had a positive raditude, and two were founders of Positive Raditude: Kerrick and Nathan. We went rock climbing in Red River Gorge in Kentucky. I believe the route that Nathan chose was a 5.8. If you are unfamiliar with the ranking system for climbing, I have attached a link below.
A 5.8 was well within the ability of the rest of the group, but, as a novice, it was several levels above anything I had done before. I was determined to conquer it. Half way up, I convinced myself it was an impossibility, and I would only further my embarrassment if I kept trying. From below, my group called up encouragement, suggested holds I could grab, and hollered, “Use your quads of gods!” Between this mix of support, my resolve was restored. As I finished the route (my forearms burning and fingertips raw), I had experienced a greater sense of accomplishment than I ever had. I had gained a sense of what it was like to be faced with a challenge so daunting and to still overcome it. This time I had nearly given up. Next time would be different.
Adventures are also formed through facing the unknown. As spring break rolled around this year, I was faced with the prospect of staying at home for spring break and “catching up”: a practical but repugnant option. PR Founder Nathan, who found himself in a similar boat, jokingly suggested that travel to Panama City beach and “tear it up”. While the idea of rave on beach full of drunken college students, didn’t particularly appeal to either of us, the idea of a spontaneous unplanned trip did. Due to work schedules,we’d only have three days to make the trip. Without a specific destination picked out, we left at 9:45 pm. We drove through the night propelled by Pink Floyd, Red Bull, and earnest conversations. Along the way, we missed our turns, picked up a surprisingly aggressive hitchhiker (who was probably someone’s grandmother), and debated politics.
En route, we decided on St. George Island, Florida. Arriving at around 8, we spent the day devouring fresh seafood buffets, onshore fishing,and summoning hordes of seagulls with open cans of sardines. Having broken our only rod, we decided we had had our fill of the beach, and were okay with returning home. We drove till midnight, parked in a hotel lot, and slept for hours. In the morning, we brushed our teeth in a Waffle house parking lot and headed home.
If we had planned it a month in advance, it might have been one of the most mundane, pointless trips. Gone for less than 48 hours. Sleeping in Nathan’s car. And not catching a single fish on a beach that’s 56 degrees. Who in their right mind would plan such a trip? No one. But with no idea where we were headed or what we were going to do, the trip was for us an adventure. We made each decision as it presented itself and no sooner. It was enough.
It is frustrating to see this new wave of Instagram-happy ‘adventurers” who never before cared about the great outdoors until it became vogue. But we should not shun them. Nearly 70% of the U.S population is either overweight or obese. Get them outside! But let’s not leave them to hike a 1 mile trail, snap a picture, and be done with it. True adventure is never comfortable. Push them. Support them. Show them what life can be like when you live with a positive raditude.