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.