Adventuring and why you should do it.
Jon is a good friend of mine from Montreal, Quebec and he's in the process of launching this really cool gig called Of Mountains and Men (more on that below). I was honored to be one of the very first guests on his podcast which focuses on adventuring... no matter what that means to you. We discussed the adventure of being in business, and the adventure of life.. but today, he shines the light on a slightly more literal form of adventure & I'm sure you're going to love it.
Walking into the woods and climbing mountains.
I was having a chat with a good friend the other day, and we were discussing the up and downs of this crazy way of life we western people have established as “normal”. You know, get up and get ready, go to work, come back home, fix dinner, watch tv, go to bed and start all over the next morning. Groundhog Day, anyone? And not only that, but the place where we spend the most time, our job, is often a source of so much pressure and stress. We’re told from a young age that we must perform, be productive, do more than the others to get ahead.
Well, I’ve been there many times. As I am sure you all have. I don’t know about you, but I had a lingering feeling of having no purpose, no impact on the world. So what do you do then? Indulge in the material comforts of consumerism? You could, but I think I have a better proposition. Have you ever thought of something you see people do and think it looked cool and interesting? Like, I look at jugglers and think, why did I never learn to do that?
I’m talking about adventure.
Going after the things you don’t know or have never discovered. For me, that was the great outdoors. The idea that out there, there are mountains so high, you lose sight of their summit into the clouds. Waterfalls hidden in the heart of the forest. And if you dare a little, you can be part of the few people that ever get to see them. You can walk up to that summit or that waterfall and get to experience them up close. Come on, break those chains and come with me, let’s go on an adventure.
What’s this adventuring thing and why should you do it.
Let’s break some stereotypes first, shall we? An adventurer, to you, might be someone who attempts crazy stuff that might injure them to various degrees of seriousness. Or it might be someone who seeks thrills. Thrills are a cool byproduct but the main goal is almost always something deeper. An adventurer, to me, is anybody who challenges themselves to try something new, something they are not comfortable with. Or if they are comfortable with it, then they push the boundaries, seek their limits and go beyond them. That sound like you? Cool, let’s keep it moving then.
If thrills are almost never the main goal, then what is? You could ask a hundred people and get a hundred different answers. The most popular ones, though, are ones of self discovery, and those are the ones that I want to talk about. I do it to push myself out of my comfort zone and find out what I’m capable of. It’s also the best form of meditation I ever tried, and I tried a few. When I come back home from an adventure, I can take on the world. I mean, I literally hoisted myself to the top of a mountain, how hard can this next thing I’m about to undertake be? The character and skills you develop while out on a trail or a climb are highly transferable. You take them home with you and get to use them in your work, your projects and your relationships. In a way, investing time in this means investing time in you. it’s my favorite way of working on myself. It’s my shrink’s couch, if you will.
You might have a totally different angle though. it’s a great way to face your fears for example. I got over my fear of heights quickly once I started climbing. I know a few people who use it to figure out the crap in their lives. Walking alone in the woods is great meditation remember. It’s got pretty views and a crazy sense of accomplishment, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to think about something and find solutions. Your brain works on something while your body works on something else. And since you usually have a physical goal to reach, your brain naturally wants to sync up and ride the emotional rush you get from reaching that goal. What’s crazy is, it’s also the best way to filter everything out and just be at peace. You want to think, go into the woods. You want to not think, also go into the woods. It works both ways. It’s highly addictive though, so… you’ve been warned.
Ease into it, start with the little things.
Have I convinced you to try it yet? I hope I did. If you’re still on the fence, keep reading, I think I know what’s keeping you from making the jump and I’ll get to that in a second. Otherwise, where the heck do you start living an adventurous lifestyle? Should you run to your nearest outfitter, load up on gear and head out? I like your enthusiasm. I’m a passionate guy myself and I can appreciate jumping wholeheartedly into something. But for most of you this isn’t the right approach. You probably have a lot on your plate. Heck, you might have several plates. So I think I have what you need right here.
I think, since you’re already here, that you embarked on a journey to a healthier you already. When you start to change some things in your life, it gets easier and easier with every step you take. It’s called momentum, you should use it. I recently was asked how I started and after thinking about it, I found the root of my wanderlust. A few years ago, after being out of a job for a while and finding a new one, I decided to start commuting by bike instead of using public transit. Pretty damn innocent right? My motivation was financial at that time, but it’s where it all started. I tried something new and discovered I could count on myself, rain or shine. It pushed me to explore, go on longer and longer rides. When the roads stopped being paved and my bike couldn’t follow, I put on my boots and started hiking. When I got to the cliffs I put on a harness and learned to climb. It was all related and it all started with a small shift.
That’s the key, make a small shift. Stick to it. Trust yourself. It’ll get you where you need to be. Take a long hard look at your life. I’m sure you can spot a few places where you could pencil adventure in. You just need to find what works for you. I just changed my way of commuting to work. Didn’t take any time away from anything else I had going on. You might decide to walk to or from school, or work, or the daycare. You might decide that you want to trade every other netflix binge for an activity you never tried. I went and tried to learn latin dancing. It was a disaster and I don’t want to talk about it, but I tried. If you try enough things, one of them is bound to stick. You just need to push the first domino, the others will fall right into place.
I know it can be weird, trying something new, but then...
If you were still on the fence, I told you I had something for you. It’s a piece of wisdom I can’t remember the origin of, but it goes something like this. In our lives, we draw these lines everywhere. We tell ourselves we’re too young or too old. Not athletic enough or, and I’m guilty of this one, simply not good enough for something. We put some things inside these lines and some things we put outside. My dad tells me that he always wanted to go to the caribbean sea. He has this dream, but he says he’s too old now, that it’s going to stay a dream. He drew a line. I once told myself I would never be successful because I dropped out of college. I put success on the other side of the line and resigned myself to live a mediocre life.
The thing with lines is, we draw them ourselves. Nothing is keeping me from success. Nothing is keeping my dad from going to cuba. He just won’t cross the line. That’s what you need to start doing. Cross the line. Seems simple right? But there’s a few things in the way. There’s obstacles that make it seem like you can’t cross the line. But these hurdles, they’re just lessons. Without them, you wouldn’t grow and learn. There’s people. People who won’t cross the line and will project their fears and doubts on you. There’s you. The inner voice telling you you’re not that special. That things like that are for other people. But the line is there and you need to cross it, it’s up to you. Once you do cross over the first line though, you start building that character. It’s like a muscle, the more you work it, the stronger it gets. You become that type of person who crosses the line. You get good at it, start being less afraid.
Go ahead, try something new. It’ll feel awesome I promise.
To get back to the great outdoors, I wish I could describe the feeling I had when I reached my first high peak in the Adirondacks. It was hard, grueling, it felt like my body was going to fail on me. But once I broke the inertia and got moving, every step became lighter. By the time I was on the summit, I felt like a new man. Same thing for climbing, every route I attempt feels like an impossible task. But I get moving, and before I know it, I’m at the top asking to be lowered back down.
There’s this thing that I realize too. Not only does my body become stronger and more skilled, but my mind as well. When I come into work and face an amount of work that would make my colleagues quiver, I just get to it with a smile. I know that before long, I’ll get my stride and be done before I know it. The business of scaling mountains really does make a person better, in every way. Doesn’t have to be mountains though. All you need is to find what that thing is for you. Go after it, learn to latin dance or juggle, if that’s what you want to. You’ll just get more awesome than you already are.