“Life’s an adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller
Spirit of Adventure
We have all heard of the phrase “Spirit of Adventure” it is often tossed about like confetti to describe anybody or anything that displays a little free spirit.
If we actually think about it, it probably still conjures up images of fresh faced, young, athletic, all American types giving up everything to sail the seas in a schooner or dig for gold in the Yukon.
As children adventure probably filled our every dream, we read about it, watched it on television or at the cinema, we lived it and breathed it, blissfully unaware that we were enjoying adventures of our own every day, Children use their imaginations every day in their playtime, these provide ample opportunities for adventure.
If we retain the wonder and curiosity that children have about life then there we will continue to explore our surroundings, neighbourhoods and further afield. This is the ‘attitude for adventure’.
History of Adventure
Considering adventure for just a moment it is likely that certain names will come to mind. Famous explorers such as Marco Polo, Magellan, David Livingstone, Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton and more recently Sir Ranulph Fiennes epitomise the spirit of exploration.
This preconception we now possess about adventure leads us to think of it in a certain manner, we no longer think of adventures as being something which is possible in our own backyards.
Our thoughts will likely stray to the epic; single handed trans-Atlantic rowing attempts, incredible feats of endurance and determination such as man-hauling across the Antarctic continent. Maybe more recently Ed Stafford the first person to hike the entire length of the Amazon.
Adventure is entrenched in our literature. Classics such as Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” which although primarily about a dog is set in the wilderness of the gold rush in the Yukon. We were probably brought up on the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson books; “Treasure Island” or “Kidnapped” every page packed with historical adventure.
Children’s books of course are all about adventure and although many are also of a fantastical nature, plenty are of the everyday variety. Arthur Ransome set “Swallows and Amazons” in the English Lake District and brings to life the adventures of a group of children camping and sailing in the area. It even has references to one of Stevenson’s greatest stories “Treasure Island”. It also emphasises the importance of imagination in providing children with the attitude for adventure.
There are even a whole series of “Boys Own” adventure annuals and books which have been reproduced and translated throughout the World, we have an obsession for adventure and literature helps inspire us.
Enid Blyton created a number of fantasy worlds but arguably her best work involved more ordinary adventures in series similar to “The Famous Five”.
Defining the ‘attitude’
Our perception of adventure and how to define it is shaped by our experiences and the media which surrounds us. The books we read when younger often portray the ‘simple’ adventures of children in the proximity of their own homes. As we become older the stories shift towards the ‘romance’ of adventure.’ The storylines become more convoluted and involve heroes defeating overwhelming odds in landscapes such as vast deserts or overcoming the difficulties of surviving in the harsh wilderness of an Alaskan winter.
Is this how adventure is defined? Absolutely not; a woman setting out solo or a couple on a round the World trip regardless of where they may be visiting are undoubtedly setting of on an adventure of a lifetime. The child visiting their local woods in the company of a few friends or parents for the first time are set for a huge adventure.
“A true adventurer does not need to seek it, adventure will find them”
Relativity of adventure
It is the ‘attitude’ that defines adventure; those that possess it will spend their whole life enjoying them. They may not be the epic ones in the same vein as Fiennes or even the late Steve Irwin but they will be personal to them, defined by their own ambitions, abilities and interests.
I believe my much more illustrious namesake George Leigh Mallory defined the ‘attitude for adventure’ very succinctly; when asked why he wanted to climb Everest; “because it’s there” he replied.
Everest was Mallory’s personal adventure and was compelled to return to attempt to reach the summit several times, eventually making the ultimate sacrifice. His quest was driven by his compulsion, his attitude for adventure.
This same attitude will compel many to visit a particular country or city, peruse a museum, make a pilgrimage to a holy shrine , a trek to the summit of a local mountain or even Aconcagua. The challenge involved is irrelevant; it is personal, it is their Everest.
‘Adventure travel’ is a whole multi-million dollar segment of the industry which caters to this need to fulfil our own personal quest. Participating in the adrenaline fuelled activities they offer is often seen as a short route to adventure. There is nothing wrong with this of course provided we ensure that we are suitably equipped, possessing the experience, skills, correct fitness levels and suitable equipment for the particular activity should be of paramount importance.
It is my belief that adventure is where you find it, it does not need any particular skills, expensive equipment, death defying activities or exotic locations; it just needs the attitude for adventure.
Those that possess this attitude will find “Everyday adventures every day”
I would love to read your comments and thoughts on the subject, finding adventure is of course a subject very close to my heart so looking forward to some alternative views maybe.