Adventure is more of an attitude than anything else. And if that’s true, then surely you can find adventure anywhere.
I woke up soon after sunrise with the birds flitting around overhead. As I unzipped my down sleeping bag and freed the pocket of warmth I had safely accumulated inside, I could hear my friends chatting at the neighboring campsite. Laura had started the fire again for breakfast, and I sat with a hot cup of black tea, waiting for my turn to use the cast-iron skillet for my scrambled eggs. Cracking eggs on a rock gave me extra primitive points, I decided, even though our cars were less than 50 feet away.
Taking a wide view of my surroundings, last night’s memories spilled into the periphery.
We arrived at the campsite early yesterday afternoon. Only four days left of a teacher’s spring break, this camping trip was the “last hurrah” of vacation. A quick trailrun followed by a long hike, I was sufficiently engrossed in the forest. And after a communal campfire dinner, there was an unspoken agreement that every piece of this trip was necessary if not long overdue.
After nightfall, the Whip-poor-wills began their endless nighttime calls. The bird songs paired with a crackling fire was nothing short of hypnotic as our bodies began to wind down naturally with the sunset. Soon, we retreated to our tents, and I stayed up finishing a novel by lantern light, ignoring the rustling in the overgrowth of foliage behind my tent.
We came and went in less than 24 hours. The beautiful thing is this campsite is no more than two miles from my front door.
I had what Alastair Humphreys calls a “microadventure.” Humphreys has spent much of his life on what most would call epic if not absurd adventures. On his resume, he could write: “rode my bicycle around the world in four years and three months,” “competed in the Marathon des Sables, a 150-mile run across the Sahara desert,” “rowed across the English Channel,” “walked across India,” and “packrafted across Iceland.” But what landed him the National Geographic title “Adventurer of the Year” was not an incredible, seemingly impossible feat. It was his 2011 “Year of Microadventure.”
Microadventures can be defined as bursts of adventures taken closer to home within a short window of time. It’s always overnight, and it’s always outdoors. But it can be as simple as sleeping in your backyard or pitching a tent in a nearby park. It shouldn’t require excessive planning or purchases. With basic knowledge and equipment, microadventures should attainable to anyone. Humphreys says, “When I was doing this, it was really important not to lose the essence of adventure. I didn’t want microadventures to become a dilute form of adventure. I wanted them to be a concentrated form, distilled like a shot of espresso. You get the taste. You get the effect. Maximum impact in the short, condensed burst of adventure.”
Many of us spend too much time thinking of excuses not to do something. Looking back, it felt like it took more time to plan the logistics of and pack for this camping trip than it did to actually camp. Many of us also spend too much time thinking about so much nonsense that makes up our day-to-day lives that it crowds out any room left for daydreams of adventure. And that’s what it feels like to most of us: daydreams instead of potential reality.
What if we spent more time shaping our day-to-day into that potential reality? What if we used the last hours, minutes, seconds of our day to get outside and reconnect with the larger world?
It takes less time than you think. And you’ll reap more benefits than you realize.
In the spirit of the Microadventure, in the spirit of re-connectivity, in the spirit of tuning in rather than tuning out, in the spirit of intention… please consider joining me on my 31 Days of Nature Challenge this May.
It does not matter if you’re reading this after the challenge has begun, whether it’s five days, five months, or five years. It’s never too late to find an adventure.
Humphreys says it best: “Life is now or never. Fill it with adventure. Squeeze it. Wring out as much as you possibly can from it. Life is this moment. This is it.”
Take it all in.
Wander, reflect, and realign –
Photograph © Justin Kern