What if we couldn’t tell the difference between the perfect adventure and our every day life?
It really depends on how you define “adventure,” because it could go beyond running down the trail through a pine forest, or standing on the top of a mountain after you’ve climbed for hours. Adventure is sometimes a life of surprises and setbacks. Adventure is often a challenge you can’t imagine going through. An adventure can also be the perspective you give to a new direction in your career, relationship, or your health that otherwise might be seen as a real low point, conflict, unexpected turn in the trail or… an adventure. If you think about it, we actually face adventure everyday and don’t always recognize the invitation.
When we do notice adventure, we see that it comes with risk. Risk of not making it. Risk of failing. Risk of pain, and the risk that whatever trail we choose – we choose it without any certainty.
We all take risks, especially as runners and those who explore the outdoors. I remember a trail race I ran in the mountains of Alberta. As I approached the start line near the Canmore Nordic Center, a sign on the kiosk read, ”WARNING: BEAR IN AREA”. For an Ohio born farm girl who wasn’t raised in the mountains, this wasn’t the best pre-race boost. Yet, going out there with other runners made me feel more at ease. I ran and finished without crossing paths with the grizzly, but some of the runners did and they had to stop and find another way on the trail.
Running and hiking in the mountains is risky. Running when you know there’s bears out there (or you have no idea what’s out there) is risky. So what do you do? You get the information, minimize your risk, and take the adventure knowing you’ll do everything you can to make it a good one. The thing is, you can run up and down the mountain with a little bit of fear as awareness, or you can let it stop you from starting the race. You can notice the support around you, look for another way if things get dangerous, and you can still do it all – even though you’ll have to take a risk.
Adventure, risk, and fear are all part of the package when you choose to go out – outdoors, outside your comfort zone, and out from the crowd. The best practice is to recognize fear for showing up and attempting to keep you safe and alive. Thank fear for reminding you there’s risk involved. Then move on and do it all. Because fear can block our ability to move, and it blinds our perspective. It shields us from harm (sometimes), but other times stands between us and an awfully big adventure.
I’ll risk being too simplistic in saying that you never know what tomorrow will bring. This is the reason you must adventure today. Even if that means one moment you’re planning on running or hiking in the mountains (with the bears), and the next moment you’re standing face-to-face with one. Even if it means one day you may be running, hiking, eating, sleeping, working, and living life as usual, and the next day, your life gets turned upside down. Either way you have a choice – are you going to take the adventure? Are you still going to run the race? Are you going to do it all, no matter what?
The way I see it, I can sit by and watch everyone else do it all, or I can feel the rush of adrenaline, gratitude, pain, love, and fear, and do it all anyway. In the face of illness, disappointment, or changes in life, you can focus on your circumstances and live defeated or… you can run the race.
What would you do if you chose to run the race, and make it the perfect adventure – even though it may not be “perfect?” If you look around, you’re not alone. There’s other risk-takers out there doing it all. They’re surviving cancer treatments. They’re moving on after a life-changing event. They’re creating something from nothing to do work they love. They’ve felt the rush of adrenaline, they fight some days, they adventure some days, and no doubt, they’re doing it all most days.
For most of us, it’s easier to get up every day and go through the motions. It’s easier not to take risks. It’s even easier to walk past handfuls of opportunities and never dare to ask, go, speak, change, wander, explore, or run. But here’s the question: Is the “warning sign” keeping you from running/hiking, or are you turning your greatest risk into your greatest strength-building adventure?
When I crossed the finish line of that trail race with the grizzly bear on the course, they asked, “How was the race?”
I heard runners say…
Uphill and hard.
Um, there’s a bear out there.
Good. It was a good race.
I felt my heart beating, my legs starting to ache, and the feeling that you can only get by taking the risk and running a race. I took a deep breath and said… “I did it all.”