Adventure does not come into your life uninvited. You have to put yourself in a place for adventure to happen. Adventure does not happen at home. Stories worth sharing rarely begin with "And so we decided to stay in today."
Adventure for me is about exploring the outdoors. My partner and I took up kayaking about five years ago. We have tried to explore as many different kayaking venues as possible...lakes and rivers in Arizona, along the coast of California, in the bay of Cabo San Lucas, with Orca whales in the distance around the San Juan Islands, and chasing dolphins in the Coral Sea. We expanded our kayaking to kayak-camping. And while I never loved regular camping, somehow kayak-camping is different. One of the biggest challenges for me is dring the kayak trailer and backing it down the ramp. I have anxiety every time about backing the trailer in a straight line, like the fishermen do with their fishing boats. But somehow I manage and the kayaks get put in the water, whether is trailer is straight or not. And once on the water, all the anxiety goes away...until the next time.
I measure the bravery needed on a scale of one to ten. Backing the trailer into the lake used to rank a 9 on a scale of one to ten. Its come down to a 6 or 7, and that's progress. Some of the emotions that accompany adventure are anxiety and fear. Fear of looking stupid, fear of being wrong, fear of being laughed at. These emotions keep people from trying new things, from venturing into new territories, from dealing with the unknown. Because people don't want to feel uncomfortable or fearful, they stay in their comfort zones...and very often those comfort zones get smaller and smaller. As a result, anything outside of your comfort zone qualifies as an adventure. And know that when you take a risk and try something new, you will feel very proud of yourself for being brave. And you will feel excitement, pride, exuberance and an increase in confidence.
Adventure for me is also about doing new things, going new places, trying something different. There is always a risk in going to a new restaurant. What if you don't like the food? What if the service is lousy? What if the people you invite don't like it? Recently I was going to meet friends before a play and they asked me to find a restaurant for the occasion. I researched the area and located a restaurant where we all planned to meet. When I walked, I discovered that it was small, had plastic chairs and bare cement floors. My heart dropped and inside i was quietly saying, "Oh no...." However, when the food came, all kinds of empanadas and plantains, it was delicious and loved by all! It was so good that we have been back there several times. I've seen this same restaurant recommended on Check Please Arizona - a PBS original television presentation.
My partner and I are not spring chickens. She is in her 60's and I'm in my 70's. In the past five years we've added a number of new things to our lives: painting lessons in acrylics, decorating bird houses with rocks, attending plays and musicals we've never seen before, although we still enjoy the oldies. We worked with a youth theater group to put on The Wizard of Oz. Of course, the fact that our dog was playing the part of Toto is what got us involved in the first place, but we loved being theater moms and now are interested in working behind the scenes on future productions. We've traveled to many different places: Aruba, Alaska, Australia, South Africa, Botswana and Kenya. Our future travels are going to take in Kauai, Italy and Croatia with Namibia planned for the year after. We tried a vacation on a clipper ship and loved it. We've snorkeled with nurse sharks and manta rays off the coast of Belize. I've been to my first polo match and stomped on the sod pieces just like they did in the movie, Pretty Woman. As I write this, my partner is off to her second glass blowing class.
We purchased a Miata this past summer. it had a six speed transmission and I hadn't driven a stick shift in over forty years. Plus, as I recall, I was never very good at shifting. So now we had this car and I was afraid to drive it. I avoided driving it for most of six months. But yesterday I drove and the fear was gone. Well, almost gone. And today I drove the Miata to work. I'm actually shifting better. I'm proud of myself. I'm actually excited about the prospect of driving again. We we invited adventure into our lives by way of a car and I'm finally enjoying the ride!
When rafting the Colorado River many years ago, an old river man said that stories about the river always begin with, "and there I was..." And there we were, getting ready for the helicopter to fly us out of the canyon and back to civilization. Me, with my leg wrapped in an ace bandage from a torn hamstring and my partner white knuckled from the rapids we'd just gone through. As she said, "it was the best of times and it was the worst of times." But it was definitely an adventure and a strenuous one at that!
Please be aware that the degree of difficulty in adventures will decrease as you get older. Your adventures won't be as extensive or as physically demanding. But do what you can, while you can. Age and physical limitations will influence the rest. I look at the old people when I'm traveling and say to myself, if they can do it so can I....for as long as I am able!
The contents of this blog will be included in a soon to be published book entitled, Living Brave by Hilda Villaverde and Mary Beth Stern. I'll let you know when it's available. It's all about women who have lived brave lives.