We don’t choose life, we’re already thrown in by the deep end.
Are we prepared for adventure?
So what’s the spirit that would transform life into an ongoing adventure? It all depends how we respond to the unknown, unforeseen, and unpredictable. Most people’s default response to the unknown is fear. Some fear responses are inbuilt into our bodies, and some nervous systems respond more easily with anxiety than others. A lot of it, though, is a learned response. As children we experienced the alarm of adults around us and thus learnt what we had to be afraid of. Fear has survival value, as it teaches us to keep ourselves safe. But when we respond to everything with fear and its inevitable companion, the attempt to stay in control, the spirit of adventure never develops.
One of the meanings of adventurous is ‘willing to take risks or try out new methods, ideas, or experiences’. So in the face of the new and unknown there is a readiness to stay open to the challenge of that situation. Fear then transforms into excitement and thrill. We may still tremble, but we now feel powerfully alive in the midst of unknown possibilities. We’re prepared to discover ourselves in new ways, to learn and develop new skills, to experience whatever arises. That’s the true spirit of adventure.
Now we usually think of adventures as happening in far away corners of the world or in wild and untamed parts of nature. But we can find them inside, too. All it takes is a willingness to not respond in habitual ways, which ultimately boils down to accepting that you don’t know what to do. So next time you find yourself in one of those situations where you usually do try to stay in control – especially one where you’re afraid or don’t like what’s going on – see whether you can treat it as an adventure instead. Then who knows what you’ll discover in this new-found spirit of living life as an ongoing adventure!