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“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller

I used to think adventures were to be found in exotic, far-off places.

Not anymore. Here’s my new definition:

Adventure: “A state of excited anticipation and full engagement as life unfolds in the moment.”

I think most people would like a sense of adventure in their lives, but a lot of them want the safe, planned kind of adventure.

Thing is, adventure—by its very definition—is dependent upon a lack of planning in order for it to be created.

I recoil from traveling with people who over-plan each day’s activities, trying to squeeze as much as possible into their waking hours afraid to miss out on something. It’s harder to create an adventure when you’re hurrying to your next planned experience.

Dissection of adventure in three steps

Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled and countless other books, is someone I respect for his intellect and the impact his work has had on countless lives. Here’s what he says about adventures:

“An adventure is going into the unknown.  If you know exactly where you are going, exactly how you will get there, and exactly what you will see along the way, it is not an adventure. Because they involve the unknown, adventures are inherently dangerous to a greater or lesser degree. Yet it is also only from adventures and their newness that we learn. If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything.” M. Scott Peck

Let’s dissect Peck’s quote:

“An adventure is going into the unknown. If you know exactly where you are going, exactly how you will get there, and exactly what you will see along the way, it is not an adventure.”

Adventure is both a spontaneous occurrence as well as a cultivated attitude, as Helen Keller’s life so nobly demonstrated. And the adventure of the unknown is the greatest there is.

However, if we don’t re-frame entering the unknown (i.e. the future) as the revealing of hitherto unseen possibilities and opportunities and if we don’t (or won’t) choose to see the unknown as mysterious rather than suspicious, then creating an experience of adventure in the present eludes us.

“Because they involve the unknown, adventures are inherently dangerous to a greater or lesser degree. Yet it is also only from adventures and their newness that we learn…”

It’s a shame more of us don’t (or won’t) learn from all the good things that happen to and around us. But the truth is, as research shows, that we learn most often and readily through discomfort; the pleasure/pain theory. We learn when something disturbs the norm, the patterns and routines of our lives.

And since most of us shy away from dangerous situations (read: “new” situations) learning becomes more of a challenge as we age and the patterns become more ingrained.  But life itself is dangerous, and the future—for everyone on this planet—is becoming increasingly uncertain on a daily basis. So, greeting each day as an adventure of our own choosing becomes both empowering and protective; like a knight riding on horseback who is also wearing armor.

 “If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything.”

Life is about learning, and learning is about introducing yourself to new ways of interacting with and contributing to the experience of life.

Life is the real adventure, not the places you’ll go or the sights you’ll see–rather the experience of the places and sights around you. And creating that internal experience requires letting go of planned results.

Your everyday-right-now-here-it-is-what-are-you-going-to-do-with-it life—the one you woke up to this morning—is the best opportunity for adventure you’re ever going to have.

Maybe it’s time to treat it that way.

With arms wide open full of excited anticipation.

 

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