I suppose this is an odd post for Gear Wednesdays. But what I am writing about is a critical, essential part of not just photography, not just adventuring, but of life itself.
Some will tell you you have to be driven to have adventures. You must be tough as nails and willing to hammer on even though frostbite has claimed your toes, and death is coming for you. Certainly, in extremis, that’s a good skill to have. The ability to deal with it when it’s all gone pear shaped is a valuable one. But it’s not needed all the time. In fact, it’s an even better skill to not get in to situations that require losing extremities in the first place.
Some will tell you that you need an insatiable wanderlust. Again, it is handy. Never being content in one spot will lead you down paths to new, strange, unusual, and fun. Having itchy feet gets you out and about. But not minding the occasional night watching a movie snuggled with a significant other under a blanket doesn’t disqualify you.
Sleeping on rocks, drinking bad water or not having enough, or surviving on scant provisions, then telling stories about how you did it. That may be part of the stereotypical adventure, but in reality all that tells me is that you plan badly.
The truth is, you really only have to have one single attribute that can lead you to adventures: you have to be curious about things. And the curiosity has to be strong enough to overcome the entropy of sitting on your couch.
Have that one thing, and you’ll find yourself wondering what it is like to call asleep in a gently rocking sleeping car and wake and breakfast in a new city. You’ll wonder just exactly what is down that road that leads over that rise, and then you find yourself checking to make sure you have water and daylight, and pedaling off to find out. You wonder what places with names like Bucksnort, Pinogrande, Pawnee, Difficult, and Soddy Daisy look like, so you pick up one morning and see.
The funniest thing happens when you do that. Your curiosity rewards you. It says, in the back of your mind, “That was cool. About this other thing I was thinking about the other day . . .”
So you take a little walk in the woods one day. Not a very long one. Just a mile or so. And before long you’re trekking in the Andes. Or you bicycle down to the store for some milk, and the next thing you know, you’re crossing whole states just to see them.
It’s intangible. You can’t hold it in your hand. You can’t buy it at an outfitter. But without it, you’re never getting anywhere.
“Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one’s bridges because you’re never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.”
― Saul D. Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals