The Wisdom Within Adventure

From Paul Bell

My previous two articles on excitement and learning have a very powerful element in common; adventure is a way to experience both of these and may be very close to the core of excitement and a stimulus to learning.

Adventure is much more than just being entertained. It involves risk. It can be physically, psychologically and financially challenging. There is no certainty of outcome. If you view life with an adventurous spirit, the possibilities for excitement are endless. Writing a book, starting a business, falling in love, battling with an unexpected storm, giving birth, climbing an unknown peak, taking a meditation retreat – throwing fear to the wind and jumping feet first. If you view life’s experiences as adventurous, they will be.

If you are in control of the adventure, there are many possible life-enhancing benefits. Your decisions and actions are affecting the outcome. This will create the feeling of ownership and empowerment which can give you a more confident, decisive, self-aware character. It can give you a wonderful sense of freedom. A freedom from the careful, balanced, predictable world you have left behind. It can make you feel very alive, present, focused just on the moment, on the now. This level of emotional involvement will give you powerful lasting memories, for you to relive or to tell as stories.

Adventurous exploits and stories have raised the bar for humanity. The mythical stories of the past are filled with adventure and civilizations have grown with these stories supporting their cultural beliefs. The human capacity for adventure has created the world we know. Much of our history and progress is that of adventurous discovery.

Humankind has a natural, innate adventurous spirit. It is not just environmental or competitive pressure that drives us forward, but a curiosity leading to discovery, the exciting possibility of gaining new information and awareness. Most of us cannot resist just peeping around that next corner. We were not just pushed out of Africa or across the Bering Sea; we did not have to go to the moon.

For an adventure to succeed rather than become a misadventure there are some clear guiding principles. Don’t construct an expected world and deny the contrary evidence. Accept things that are not what you want them to be. Keep an independent mind and spirit and be open to all possibilities. Remember that an adventure forces us beyond our normal habits of response. We now need to be very aware of the implications of each new action.

Of course, as with many of humanity’s basic behaviors, adventure can have its downsides. You or your group of adventurers can be hurt or die but they are the risks that create the adventure. A phrase that has helped keep me alive, “There are old climbers and bold climbers but there are very few old, bold climbers” has often sensibly turned me around. Accidents do not just happen to other people. There are many of us that have sat at home wishing we were engaged in an adventure, but then at other times immersed in a critical struggle we have wished to be back in that calm, safe environment.

Also, the adventurous spirit of some has led to the subjugation of many hundreds of thousands of people throughout history. The early colonialists were highly praised for their brave adventurous behavior. Many of our adventures ignore the fragile nature of our planet. But is it not that very same spirit that will lead people to fight the injustices inflicted upon millions? It will be the adventurous scientists, technologists, politicians and citizens who will strive to protect our planet. From the individual to the global level, many of us will naturally seek adventure but it is our awareness of the consequences of our actions that has to make that critical difference.

Once again, the concept of the mind gut connection gives us food for thought. That powerful, instinctual gut feeling makes many of us want to leap into an adventure, and that energizing sensation can be wonderful. It may at first have been triggered by the curious nature of the mind. The mind may present sane, logical arguments to steady the impulse from the gut. These driving forces from both regions of the body are vastly more effective when they are connected.

Paul Bell lives a life of both physical and mental adventures. He is passionate about education and has enjoyed teaching and challenging children in the outdoors, and helping large project and company teams raise their performance levels. He currently lives and adventures in the Canadian Rockies, sails the Pacific coast and finds life very exciting.