The other week I was traveling with some friends and they were using the word adventure a lot: “We need to go adventuring again sometime”, “My adventuring partner” it goes on so I will spare you the details. So it got me thinking were the activities they were doing actually an adventure, and what constitutes something to be an adventure. I don’t know about you but for me when I hear the word adventure things that come to mind are movies like, Indiana Jones, and the Eiger Sanction, and I know my real experience do not come close to those movies. Real life experience and the movies are completely different so while I will never throw nazi’s off of a zeppelin I would still like to live a more adventurous life.
So to start looking into how to live an adventurous life I asked around to some friends on what they thought adventure was. There were a number of reoccurring themes that came out in the answers people gave: perceived risk, uncertain outcome, something that take you out of your comfort zone, and something out of the ordinary. However I was unsatisfied with these answers and this view of adventure, giving a speech to a large crowd for some has an uncertain outcome, perceived risks by people and takes them out of their comfort zone, but I would not call that an adventure. I take nothing away from what people think but for what I want out of an adventure and a life of adventure I want something a bit more.
Taking parts of what people gave me as their thoughts, and mixing in my own desire for adventure I’ve developed five elements I think make something an Adventure, an Inspired Objective, Risk, Requires you to be better than you are at the start, and Unpredictability.
Adventures start with a grand objective, or purpose, Indiana Jones has to find the Arc, Frodo has to destroy the ring, the adventure has a purpose, or goal. A movie about someone traveling about aimlessly may be an interesting character piece but I do not think most of us would clarify it as an adventure. An objective drives us forward to push through the hard times that will come, to test are limits, and overcome and persevere. It cannot be any objective though. My friend as part of his idea of adventure is he has to be inspired to action for him to start moving towards his goal.
The objective must be inspired by a deep internal desire. We all have those large dreams we want to pursue, that we know will take a massive commitment. Those thoughts that get you excited just thinking about them, those are the beginning of a true adventure. They draw you in and act as an inciting incident to action, to start a true adventure.
Not all inspired Objective will make for a great adventure, there must be some risk involved. A lot of responses to what makes an adventure included perceived risk, but I think there has to be some element of real risk. Real risk is required for an adventure. When there is risk we are far more committed, focused, and thus fully invested in the experience. Risk can be physical but it could also be financial, personal, social, something needs to be on the line, in a true adventure. You will have to leave the safe and comfortable life behind if you want to live an adventurous life.
An adventure is also going to require you to be better than you are at the outset. An adventure will push you past your limits. What got you here will not get you there. An adventure will require you to learn new skills push yourself, work harder, ultimately get better, and grow as an individual.
Even with all of that you may still not have a great adventure. There must be uncertainty, and unpredictability in an adventure. If all of your plans go perfectly it is not an adventure. Its those times where things go wrong, you have to adapt, make the tough decisions, and push through that you enter into the realm of adventure. Its those moments that will require more of you to push through the risk, towards that objective.
Now will all of this being said I’ve done a lot of trips, but I think most of them are not adventures. What I do know is that if you want to have more adventures, you need to look for those inspired objects that may be a bit too big for you to accomplish, that might be a risk, and find ways to step into that unpredictable world and make things happen.