The Adventure of Your Life
Life is supposed to be a series of adventures. It's impossible to understand the meaning of life without understanding that. We're all supposed to be explorers, pioneers, and treasure hunters of the soul. We're not supposed to be sleep walking through the world, caught in a routine, heads down and eyes closed to the possibilities that lie waiting all around us. This world is a dramatic arena, and each of our lives is supposed to show that in the best possible way.
"Without adventure, civilization is in full decay." (Alfred North Whitehead)
I've become convinced that we are here in this world to live a grand adventure consisting of a series of smaller adventures. We are here for discovery, growth, creative accomplishment, and loving fulfillment. Anything less is a waste of time.
Whether your adventure is noisy and glamorous, or subtle and deep, whether it plays out on a global stage, or within the borders of your own neighborhood, whether it involves changing the world, or just improving yourself, an adventurous approach to life is a requirement for becoming the person you're capable of being, making your mark in the lives of others, and experiencing a sense of lasting fulfillment along the way.
I choose the word 'adventure' carefully. It's more than just a journey that I have in mind, a process of travelling from point A to B. An adventure is an extended experience, frought with risk and reward, unpredictable twists, guaranteed obstacles, and surprising results. You can take a trip, launch out on a voyage, or undergo a journey fast asleep. But an adventure has to be experienced. Eyes wide open. In disbelief, terror, amazement, or bliss. It is an essentially existential endeavor, a foray of the heart, mind and senses that calls into play every aspect of your existence.
The term 'adventure' is in a sense value neutral. An adventure can be frightening, or it can be great. It can cause pain, or produce joy. It can end badly or well. But you never experience an adventure unchanged. In fact, adventure is all about change. It's about growth. And growth is the core of life.
Successful lives grow out of successful adventures. The adventure of your life is so important that it demands the best of your attention, and the most of your energies, on a daily basis, so that it can be lived well.
The world's greatest literature attests in many ways to the paradigmatic importance of adventure in human life. In the Iliad and the Odessey, the ancient poet Homer spun tales of striking adventures that have reverberated down the centuries, capturing the interest of people in every subsequent time. In the book of Genesis, one of the foundational stories of the Bible, an account viewed as of crucial importance by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, presents Abram as a man suddenly called out of the comfort and security of his homeland for a new adventure, a journey that would eventually lead him to The Promised Land. Renamed Abraham, this adventurer is viewed as the original Father of faith, and as an individual through whom all the nations will eventually be blessed.
"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go." (Hebrews 11:8, New Testament)
The Buddha went on a quest. Mohammed lived an adventure. Moses, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Columbus, Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Martin Luther King - so many of the names that represent to us lives fully lived are those of adventurers, inventors, discoverers, liberators, creators, people who were not content to just measure out their days, but who threw themselves into a dynamic process of change for the sake of others as well as themselves.
We're fascinated and inspired by mountain climbers, sailors on the open sea, serious rafters, hot air baloonists, scuba divers, spelunkers, astronauts, and pioneers of every kind. We admire those among us who are able to break out of their routines and take the risks involved in all discovery. And, in more subtle ways, we read with interest and satisfaction the stories to be found in great novels of character challenge, emotional learning, and personal growth.
Adventures of exploration and conquest, as well as adventures of the heart, have dominated the human imagination at all times. Deep down we've somehow always known that life is meant to encompass challenging adventures, We've even suspected that human existence reaches its pinnacle in creative adventure, and yet this is an insight we too easily forget to apply to our own careers in this world. We might dream of fabulous adventures in our innermost thoughts, but thrown into an actual one, we often react with anxiety, aversion and fear.
"When youčre safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when youčre having an adventure you wish you were safe at home." (Thornton Wilder)
We live in what could be the most adventure filled time of change in all of human history, but we have not been sufficiently prepared for living that adventure well. We don't deeply enough understand the necessity of personal adventure for the happiness and fulfillment that we all ultimately seek. We need new wisdom for our lives at a time like this. And wisdom is the philosopher's job.
That's where I come in. I'm a philosopher. Full time. It's my job to understand the human condition, to see the Big Picture, and to discern the fine points that can make all the difference between success and failure in a life, a relationship, a business, or any human activity.
I've come to realize that we all need a map and a compass to steer by while charting the adventure of our lives. As a philosopher, I am on a life-long journey of mapping and exploring the contours of success, excellence, and fulfillment in our world, a journey of insight, experiment, surprise, and accomplishment. I am hoping that you will join me in it, in an interesting way.
"Let no young man delay the study of philosophy, and let no old man become weary of it; for it is never too early or too late to care for the well-being of the soul." (Epicurus - c.342 - 270 B.C.)
I'm in the process of finishing a book about life adventure. If you have lived an adventure that you'd like to tell me about, if you've switched careers, undergone a techtonic shift in your personal life, or found yourself somehow heading into unknown territory and wouldn't mind sharing the salient features of your experience briefly with me, email me today, or at least as soon as you can. Give me a short version of what you've experienced, and what you've learned. It may help me to put the finishing touches on my own philosophy of adventurous living, and it may help me to help others who are contemplating their own adventures often with mixed feelings.
I'll read any emailed stories, and I can promise you that anything you share will be of interest. I should also take this opportunity to thank all of you who already so generously share your responses to what we are putting on this website. Let's share a bit more of the adventure together!
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