The Greatest Adventure is Within
It is important not to confuse the sources of our answers.
By: Nolan Thompson
The road does not know us better than ourselves. It does not keep some higher knowledge of who we are a secret, locked away to be found in some far off destination. The answers we seek are within us, and when we are ready for true adventure, we pack up our whole selves and hit the road.
Along the way, we begin to unpack these answers and wear them in the sunshine of foreign lands. Here our identity, our truth, stands out bold and clear as the only familiar thing for us to cling to.
We do not find ourselves on the road, we witness ourselves. We behold the glory and truth of who we are. We unpack the baggage and air out the souls long kept locked away, but were always there.
The seduction of escape has found us all at some point in our lives. It is a romantic notion. An image of golden sun and never looking back. The opportunity to leave the world behind lures many to runaway. It is far easier to slip away than to actually face life. These escapists seek an illusion of happiness by putting as much distance between them and the problems they will one day have to come home to. Do not count yourself amongst these false smiles. The promise of this alternative life is intoxicating but it is false. It is a toxic promise.
The truth is, who you are is not waiting for you at the end of a road trip. If you are seeking answers, the greatest adventure lies within. Brave the sub-cranial caves of your psyche. Find a kernel of who you are and introduce yourself to the world. Put this discovered self to the test. Adventure is a proving ground.
We place ourselves in foreign lands to be stripped of the lives we've known. Leaving only our naked self to navigate the virgin experience of a new land. When you have nothing but yourself you are reduced to the most common human denominator. We are reduced to the simplest definitions. The selves most easily translated into any language.
Adventure is not about escape. It is about challenging every concieved notion you have about yourself. It is about putting yourself in a postion to be wrong. To put yourself on the line and allow experience the chance to return a verdict we so often fear. It is a confirmation of truth. We are either right about ourselves or we are not.
No matter what, you are still the person who had to come to that experience and had to make a decision or a choice. Your decision is as significant as choosing right or left. What says more about you is the fact you were willing to come to the fork in the road. Most will never even make it there.
Many will travel the world and stand at the foot of incredible places but they will never see the world as you do. They will never know the world as you do. What is in front of them is a band aid, temporary, skin-deep, superficial. They have never unlocked the baggage, never dared to air out the fragile soul. They are in a cyclical search outside themselves.
If adventure provides any escape, it is to escape the dulling warmth of this comfort zone. Like a soft warm blanket, routine and comfort wraps around you, allowing you to slip into dream. What we see or do in this state, is also as real. Wake up and throw comfort aside. Rise and leave "civilization" behind.
Enter this world without demands of how it "should" be. Realize only you are the stranger. Not the people or places we find ourselves. Seek out the people, seek out the experiences which peirce the postcard. Don't recycle old behaviors in new locations to placate some loose understanding of adventure. Dive deep into a culture. Drink deeply from life's offered cup. The French are not rude, they are French. Did you ever seek to understand them, seek to learn the language, allow for the fact a different culture may in fact be different?
If you come to a location and leave dissapointed, you came to it with an expectation of how it "should" have been. We desperately seek for it to meet the requriements of some force fed answer for the releif of external validation. It is easier for a destination to disspoint us than to accept we dissapoint ourselves.
The transformational power of adventure marks the internal choice to put an end to this. Adventure is not so much the catalyst as it is the by product. Adventure is not so much the evaluation of the world but the evaluation of ourselves. It is backwards, but adventure only occurs when we stop looking outside and start looking in.
You must come to a level of self awareness to know the test most befitting of who you are. This conscious provocation of the spirt is the seminal quality which defines adventure from the mindless, global, migrations of the human herd. Life in the herd is safe and many are content. Many of our friends and family are there, each day familiar, but we, we are lions. Ours is a much smaller club. One reserved for those not looking to follow traditional trails to graze troddened grounds but to hunt and to charge after our life source.
Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to summit Everest in 1953. When asked what it felt like to conquer the world's highest peak, Hillary would remind many "it is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." Keep this maxim as a landmark on your horizon. Its significance is as titanic as the mountain it refers to. Before you enter the promised crucible of any travel, ask what part of you is to be conquered? What strengths will be tested? What qualities to be confirmed? or what fears are to be slayed?
We must pack all this alongside clothing and gear before we walk out the door. To leave them behind, is to leave yourself behind, to runaway, to escape to a limited illusion. Instead, awaken and rise to the challenge of this living world. Know yourself so you may better know the world and collaborate with its offered experience to forge a life of true adventure. Dreams are wonderful, warmth comfortable, but the chill of the high mountains or the spray of the sea is far more refreshing.
Go into this world, put your whole self into it. Unlock yourself and allow the soul to breath the fresh air. The answers to who you are do not await you in some location, the answers lie waiting within. Rescue yourself from the armed guards we have posted to keep ourselves and the scrutiny of the world out, and take it into the world. In this time alone and away we finally get to know the person we have always been without the distraction of the person we are supposed to be. In adventure we do not "find" ourselves, rather, we confirm what exactly we are made of.