Unwanted Adventures

Some adventures we search for, others come unbidden.

Life is full of challenge, sometimes more than we think we can bear. We have daily challenges; dealing with work, family and all that entails; the ebbs and flows of our friendships. Then there are challenges that rock us to our core.

Nothing ever prepares us for the death of a loved one, struggling with serious illness or the end of a relationship. Things happen that shake the very foundations of our life, that plunge us into sadness beyond what we had imagined was possible. And at some point they happen to all of us, one way or another.

So why would we go and search for more? Why seek adventure and add to the huge challenge that life already is?

Because on some level we know that it is these challenges, bidden or unbidden, that makes us who we are. They are what life is really all about. It is by living through them and growing from the experience that we really live.

That is why we instinctively admire and look up to people who push themselves to their limits, break boundaries – seek out the adventure. When we look at them, we can see that the adventures they seek somehow prepare them for the unwanted adventures that we all face.

You may have seen in the press recently that a world renowned adventurer, Lincoln Hall, passed away. Lincoln was famous for surviving a night on Everest after being pronounced dead in 2006. It makes his death from cancer now seem bitterly unfair. A story that makes many people question the meaning in his survival, the meaning in all of our lives.

I was looking at some video footage of Lincoln Hall. This was a man that was truly loved. Clearly loved by his family, but also loved and admired by the many people he touched in his life. His untimely death makes it only more clear that his life was one well lived.

There is a part of us that wonders why Lincoln felt compelled to embark on such a dangerous challenge as climbing Mount Everest in the first place. Why did he?

Why do any of us search for adventure? Because we all know on some level that we are here to contribute, to be the best person we can be. And to do that we must stretch ourselves beyond what we thought possible.

I remember hearing the Dalai Lama speak about suffering and challenge. I can’t remember his exact words, but he talked about how important our attitude and perspective is. The analogy he used was something like: Imagine if someone forced you to run a marathon against your will. It would be the most horrid torture, a real cruelty. Yet if we choose to run a marathon of our own free will, if we see it as a challenge we have chosen, one we train for – it is a completely different experience. It is an experience of courage, testing both our physical and our inner strength.

So the way I see it, the braver you are, the more you challenge yourself, the more you embrace life with both hands and rub yourself in the dirt to know you are alive – the stronger you will be.

The unwanted adventures come anyway.

Seek out your own, and build an arsenal to face them when they do.

Flying. Travel by Magic.

I love flying. Every bit of it. Hearing the pilot say, ‘We are off to the south tracking via Wollongong, conditions in Melbourne are clear and 18 degrees’.

I love watching the workers on the tarmac that look suspiciously like the Doozers from Fraggle Rock.

If you don’t know what a Doozer is, I pity you. Watch this: http://youtu.be/H7AthbqkW68

But the absolute best bit is the take off. Sitting there on the tarmac as the engine builds, then, with both feet firmly planted on the floor (this is important), the race forward, adrenaline rushing through your whole body and – you are in the air.

In the air people. Flying at a gozillian miles an hour – looking down on the world. A world that when you are in it can be busy and stressful and harsh. But from up there, it is always beautiful. Breathtakingly beautiful.

When I’m down in the world, sometimes I look up at the planes in the sky and wonder: How do they stay up?

Well, the answer is – its magic. I know this for a fact, because when I was living in Oxford I had a few flying lessons. One of the incredible things I learnt was that once you are in the air, the plane pretty much flies itself. You don’t have to pedal or anything.

I remember thinking: Really? We just sit here and don’t fall out of the sky?

They then told me one of the most important things to learn was how to stall. Yes – stall the plane as in make the engine cut out – and then recover. I guess they thought the whole letting the plane fly itself thing wasn’t exciting enough.

Now – I am quite an expert in stalling. I do it in my Yaris at least once a day. Recovering at the lights while the person behind me is beeping I am well versed in. But recovering whilst floating mid-air in what is the aircraft equivalent of a Torana is another story. I decided to quit while I was ahead.

Chicken Run feels like how flying should be, us all peddling madly as we lurch into the air screaming at the top of our lungs.

But instead, we sit in our comfy chair, sipping our iced water, reading a book or watching a movie. We barely even notice the beauty passing outside the window. I usually take a while to get to my book. I can occupy myself for a good while watching the clouds.

The top of the clouds. You are above the clouds people.

Taken with my phone from my window seat. Yes it was in Flight Mode.

I’ve lost count how many airports I’ve been in, let alone flights I’ve taken. But still every time I go to the airport, every time I get on a plane, I love it.

How could you not? It’s magic.

Amazing Wild Gorilla Encounter

Ever wonder how animals see us? Are they curious about us? Watch this.

Touched by a Wild Mountain Gorilla (Non HD version)

It’s incredible isn’t it? I haven’t known anyone see this video and not be moved. It got me thinking – why is this so amazing to watch?

Maybe it touches the most primal part of us. The curious child that is in awe at finding out that there are all sorts of amazing things out there, beyond us. It is a mirror to our world, and a window into theirs – the gorilla’s world.

And with the window open, we are drawn in. We want to experience it, understand it, be a part of it. And amazingly, for a few brief moments – the man in this video is.

Some people think that all of the constant recording and photographing of the world today takes away some of the magic. We truly seem to live in a world where if there is no photo or picture taken, then nothing has happened.

This video reminds me that there is so much more to our world than we can ever imagine. So many things undocumented, so many subtleties and nuances we will never understand. And thank goodness for that.

Imagine a world where there was nothing left to learn, nothing left to explore?