Once, when I was raising our son, 9 and 13 years younger than his sisters, those two amazing young women suggested that I go on an adventure. We were sitting on the couch in my mother’s home–and they laughingly insinuated that I had taken safe paths and it was time for me to “plan a trip where you drive off by yourself and explore, have some adventures.”
To their credit, one had left the Midwest to study at a major eastern university and adding to that excitement, had a scholarship to do it. The other, after her marriage, decided that California was the place for her career and so she and her husband went west. Adventurers both. Me? My husband and I were confirmed Chicagoans, Midwesterners–because we wanted to raise our son there and because our income was there. (You can always pull up stakes and leave a place, but it’s best to have income if you are raising a child.)
HOW DID I RESPOND?
I remember feeling hurt. After all, having our son at the age of 42 had been an adventure. There was risk, there was lots of planning and some sacrifice–all things that must go along with adventure. And I was grateful that our two daughters hadn’t just headed out without a plan and financial backing. My husband and I would not have welcomed a call saying one or the other was out of money and alone. But surprised and a little annoyed by what they were saying, at that moment I didn’t agree or lay out some startling future plan.
SO WHAT THE HELL IS AN ADVENTURE, ANYWAY?
I remember reading a novel by Elizabeth Berg, about a woman, who having issues with her husband, packed up her car with warm clothing and some provisions and headed out. The novel, THE PULL OF THE MOON, is described thusly: Sometimes you have to leave your life behind for a while to see it and really live freshly again. In this luminous, exquisitely written novel, a woman follows the pull of the moon to find her way home. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always honest, The Pull of the Moon is a novel about the journey of one woman – and about the issues of the heart that transforms the lives of all women.
BUT I DIDN’T NEED OR WANT TO LEAVE MY LIFE. Instead, I wanted to enrich it. THUS: here is MY DEFINITION OF AN ADVENTURE, in a few sentences.
First it is not what I saw on television while growing up–wild horseback riding or cars driving at dangerous speeds or travels into jungles where you might get mauled by a wild animal. An adventure can be a movement into the unknown, but It does not have to include danger, though it might include risk. There is a difference. Our son grew and thrived and thus:
- I went back to school at the age of 42 and became a labor and delivery RN.
- I worked the 3-11 shift at an inner city hospital.
- I encouraged my husband to take new employment in Des Moines, Iowa & we moved.
- I decided I could write a novel. In the space of seven years I wrote three of them.
- I decided to spend weekends at a university studying about writing. (I attended either weekend or week-long classes at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival. I did this for eleven years.)
- I researched a chronic form of leukemia to help my husband when he was diagnosed.
- I worked for Meredith Corporation in their book department, doing copy editing and proof reading and I worked at the health department in Des Moines.
- I drove back and forth to Chicago to oversee my mother’s failing health.
- Along with my husband, I decided that yes California would be a great place to move to when he retired. We did.
- I decided I could write a weekly blog, join the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and take classes and workshops with them.
I don’t list these things to brag. No, not at all. Only to show that most did not require major travel in the PHYSICAL world, but they did in the MENTAL WORLD. That’s ME. That’s what I crave.
All of this is to underline that our personal choices make up the adventure of our lives. I totally admire people who do take greater personal risk when they climb a mountain or zip-line or sail around the world in a small craft. (Does one hour of rough water rafting on the Snake River and encountering a 4 count?) Basically, I’m a chicken.
ADVENTURES NEVER END
Maybe adventure is closely related to attitude. Do we exhibit our ability for adventure by taking risks in physical stunts, exotic trips, precarious adventures? OR in exposing ourselves to ideas and mental struggles that in the end might prove to be even more taxing. Whatever you decide:
- try something new–a film, a food, a city, a book, an art form or type of music
- be open to new ideas
- work toward empathy and understanding
- tell yourself I WANT TO GROW! Growth is always an adventure.
INTO THE FUTURE
It’s always best to stay awake for something amazing. What would that be? Where would that experience, thought, travel take you? Right now, the internet is a form of adventure, as long as we use it to power good thoughts and actions. What’s on your list of future adventures?
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll,
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