28 Jan Chasing Adventure (carefully)
One of the first things you learn while traveling is that the mishaps become the adventure. Perfectly planned trips with no hiccups are what I like to refer to as an actual vacation. These are few and far between for me. Mostly because I have a disdain for planning beyond making a list of interesting places, but also because I’ve grown accustomed to stepping outside of imaginary travel boundaries that corral the weary traveler alongside pleasantly predictable experiences. My husband and I have a propensity for taking risks and pushing things a bit too far. There are times when I think we might actually enjoy the pain and suffering of terrifying and questionably dangerous situations.
At the end of each trip I make a mental tally of all the times we almost died. Not because I like to keep a track record, but because I need to monitor our success rates. So far, we’ve survived all attempts on our sanity and possibly even our lives. I don’t say this proudly. I say this as a concerned human, because I am a walking contradiction. Balancing an intoxicating mix of fear and adrenaline.
The promise of being shaken and horrified can lure me into situations that quite honestly, I don’t tell my mother about. I would equate this to true adventurers; the free climbers, base jumpers, or people that actually enjoy haunted houses. While I always have one foot in the wrong direction, I also keep one foot safely strapped in a life jacket or seatbelt. I’m a worrier by nature. My mother instilled this cumbersome trait in me as a young girl. I was often warned of the unpredictable nature of quicksand, strangers with candy, and the germs on the outside of my soup can. So, it can be rather difficult for me to compartmentalize my two selves. Separating the part of me that wants to run down a volcano and eat from the bowl of communal bar nuts with the part of me that needs to wash my hands every hour or refuses to go over the speed limit.
In an effort to make sure we stay alive on precarious adventures, I keep a record of how many times things went amiss. I tease out the details hoping to understand what we did right and what we did wrong. Herein lies the problem. As someone that fears fear, recapping a list of fearful moments can be rather mentally taxing. More in-line with my contradictory self, I reflect on these moments and think, were they even that scary?
The scars have since healed. Emotionally, I can no longer recall the amount of terror I experienced while clutching my lifejacket in a torrential downpour as our small boat lost power and listed toward small islands in the pitch black of the Flores Sea. Instead I see these moments of survival as proof that you can unbuckle every once in a while and still make it out alive. I obviously say that figuratively, I would never intentionally ride without a seatbelt.
As I file away the near death and breaking-point moments of our last trip, I am reminded that there is always a level of danger in adventure. Sometimes we fear things prematurely. Simply being unfamiliar with our surroundings can cause us to turn back; a fear of the unknown forcing us to retract to familiarity. But after all of my wildly eventful mishaps and questionable adventures, I would still argue that the really great memories lie on the opposite side of pleasant and predictable. Every once-in-a-while, we should push ourselves a little further, carefully of course.