I was talking with a friend of mine the other day. I call him the real-life most interesting man in the world. He’s been to countries all over the world, hung out with Buddhist monks, build homes in strange lands with Habitat for Humanity, and has had countless other experiences that make him deserving of that title.
During our conversation, he started talking about how I needed to have some adventure. I found his comment funny because I write books that are full of adventure. He explained that I needed to have some adventures of my own, real ones in places I’d never been before.
I was curious. I asked him what his definition of adventure was. His answer was simple yet beautiful.
He said that whenever you go somewhere new and experience new things, that can be an adventure. But he took it deeper than that. He went on to tell me about how the real adventure of traveling comes from getting imbedded with the local people.
I have to agree with this sentiment. My last major trip was ten years ago when I visited Germany. I was there for almost a month, living in a place where I didn’t speak the language, and was completely immersed in the culture of one small town. I got to know the citizens, met the mayor, learned about their local customs and festivals, and really became a part of the area, even if it was just for a little while.
I think that last part is what my friend is getting at when he talks about adventure.
He’s not talking about drama, like in my books where there are fights and shootouts, and where conflict drives the story forward.
He is talking about becoming a part of something bigger than yourself. To him, an adventure is sitting at a bar in a foreign country while having locally brewed beer with people he’s never met. It’s sipping tea with a Buddhist monk and laughing with him about jokes or stories. It is dancing with villagers in a celebration you don’t understand, to music you’ve never heard before. It’s trying food that you’ve never seen before. It is experiencing beauty you never knew existed.
We all have fears, and preconceived ideas about what could happen if we got out of our comfort zones. Some of us can’t sleep without a little floor fan going during the night. Others of us are terrified of heights (I know I am). Some people don’t want to be in a place where they don’t know the language. But consider the things you’re missing: the experience of traveling across an exotic land, majestic views from mountain tops that seem to overlook the entire world, and enriching moments with total strangers who have become so much more.
That last part is the biggest for me. And it is my definition of adventure: experiences that enrich your life.
One of my childhood friends has a saying that he got from his father. It is a phrase that has sent him to many countries all over the world, experiencing rare concerts, amazing food, and engaging with terrific people. He calls them “once in a lifetime opportunities.”
Because of that phrase, he has seen and done more than most people I know. He realizes that this life is short, and all we have at the end of it is the memories we made.
What memories will you make? What will your adventure be?
Talk to me…
I want to know what your adventure will be or what they have been so far. Post them in the comments. Many of us don’t have a lot of money to throw around on traveling to exotic places. You don’t have to. Driving an hour away from your home might put you in a place that will give you a new perspective on life. And if you’re looking to embark on an international adventure sometime soon, check out these links. They’re websites I’m currently using to plan my next adventure.