What Makes An Adventure?

Antarctic adventure

What Makes An Adventure?

Men don’t go on adventures anymore. It’s sad but true. In the 1930s and 40s there was still much of the world that Western men had not explored. In those days men went in to those unknown lands for little more reason than to see what would happen when they got there.

Most of the time nothing happened. They documented what they saw and where they saw it and went on their way. Depending on where they went they probably found some novel animal species. They may have met some nearly naked tribe carrying crude spears, using primitive technology.

Teddy Roosevelt Amazon
Teddy Roosevelt exploring and hunting in the Amazon

In some cases men went on adventures just to do it. Take for example Douglas Mawson. Mawson was an explorer of the Antarctic, In 1912 he set out to trek across some ice caps with only his turn of the century technology. What did he hope to find? Who really knows? But he lost quite a bit, including his comrades, in the process. Somehow, he survived in what is easily one of the most incredible displays of sheer willpower in history.

Douglas Mawson recuperating after the his Antarctic odyssey

In the modern world most of what we would want to explore has been explored. We may want to explore the ocean floor, but until technology advances significantly that won’t happen.

We may want to explore space, but until technology advances significantly that won’t happen.

Modern men are forced to divorce adventure from exploration. With exploration every novel place one ventures is dangerous because the unknown presents the possibility of danger. Now for us to have an adventure we must seek out danger. Since there is nothing left to explore we have to seek out dangerous situations in order to have an adventure. Danger is therefore inherently more certain in modern adventures and that, I believe, is why we don’t go on many today.

What is an Adventure?

A Google search defines an adventure as an unusual and exciting or daring experience. Exploration makes this easy because explorers dare to go where few have gone before. The experience is unusual by definition.

But modern men must seek out unusual and daring experiences. The adventures are unique to us. An adventure for me might not be an adventure for you.

When I lived in Okinawa, Japan I would adventure with a small group of friends every Saturday. These typically involved hikes along rarely used trails. Often we would blaze our own trails. The purpose was to see what was beyond where we were. Sometimes we went to mountaintops just for the view. Other times we went behind waterfalls. But each experience was unusual and most were daring to some extent.

Okinawa adventure
A pic I took on my way to a waterfall in Okinawa, Japan
Okinawa beach pic
Me atop a hill near a secluded beach in Okinawa

Once my buddies and I climbed to the top of a waterfall. The only aid was a rope tied from tree to tree forty feet above the rocky cliffs surrounding the falls. There was only a shred of footing climbing up as wet grass lined the walls near the trees that high up. I slipped and would have fallen forty feet had I not been holding on to that rope with a death grip.

The top of the waterfall was cool. We explored behind the waterfall for a while but didn’t see anything interesting.

It was an unusual experience and daring. And it’s why we went on these adventures every Saturday for nine months.

How To Have Your Own Adventure

To have your own adventure you’ll need a few things. First you must find a place you have never been. This place must have some danger or risk involved with getting there.

You may have never been to the new Olive Garden that opened downtown last week, but going there won’t be daring or unusual.

Typically you’ll need to go some place in the wilderness. Often times this can be dangerous. There is the danger of animal attacks, falling down cliffs, and getting lost. Threats of that sort might not be likely to occur to but they are possibilities.

Next you’ll need an objective. This may be an abandoned site, or a mountaintop, or some other natural feature. Going places others have gone may still qualify, but it is more adventurous to go where few have gone or where few go frequently.

Why Have an Adventure?

Adventures excite us. They remind us that life can be novel, more than mundane. Our everyday lives are so often mundane. Enjoyable (hopefully), but mundane. Adventures break up the monotony and bring us back to reality.

They also teach us that the fear of the unknown is so often irrational. We fear what is around the corner because we do not know what is around the corner. When we force ourselves to go around that corner more often than not we discover that there is nothing dangerous at all there. If there is something dangerous there, we are able to overcome that danger and when we do our sense of strength and confidence is deepened.

Adventures teach us that we have the strength to conquer the unknown world and the fears within us.

Have an adventure like this guy

This is also why we read adventures. We want to know what danger lurks on the next page and how the protagonist will overcome it. We want to explore the landscape of unknown lands and the learn the customs of unknown peoples. These may be fierce and deadly, but the protagonist is stronger for surviving them.

We too can be the protagonists in the adventures of our lives. We too can be made stronger for surviving those adventures. We too become more courageous each time we break through the barriers of the unknown to discover that whatever lurks there is not as strong as we are.

It only takes a little faith in the strength inside of you.