How To Become an Adventurer
Becoming an adventurer doesn’t mean that you have to go climb Mount Everest (everyone’s done that) or explore the Sahara. The most unexplored territory in the world is Your Life. Becoming an adventurer means making a commitment to explore your life each and every day. All it really takes is a shift in focus — a movement toward breaking out of our usual ruts and grasping the adventure in every moment. But if you like a more outlined approach, here’s how to become an adventurer in Nine Easy Steps.
1. Make an Adventuring Pack – This is both a functional tool and a powerful symbol of your commitment to adventuring. If your adventures will take you into the wilderness, you’ll be using the pack extensively. If you are more prone to other types of adventuring, the pack may spend most of its time in a closet, only coming out when you need to remind yourself of your inner adventurer’s nature.
First, find a very sweet-looking pack. It needs to stir your imagination, and still be functional if you’re going to be using it in the wilderness. Mine is small and light, and can be easily removed if I have to quickly climb up a tree or run away from a wild dog. But it’s still roomy enough that I can keep some basic gear in there that would make a long-term wilderness exploration pretty plush.
Second, equip your pack. The contents will be unique for each person, but here’s what I keep in mine.
2. Choose Your Adventuring Grounds – This may be forests or swamps where humans seldom tread, or it may be your local coffee house. Choose areas where you are likely to encounter situations that will excite and challenge you. If you are a people-person, try festivals, social events, or public gatherings. If you are very urban-oriented, consider urban exploration. If you are excited by the inner world, adventure in your mind through meditation or contemplation.
3. Add to Your Skill Sets – The more skills you have at your disposal, the more you’ll be able to meet the challenges that adventuring brings. If you are doing the coffee-house type adventure, develop your ability to guide conversation into interesting places or put people at ease so that they’re more likely to share ideas or personal stories with you. If you’re drawn to wilderness adventure, skills such as wilderness survival, swimming, and lost-proofing are essential. Learning to climb can be of benefit in both the wilderness and in urban settings. Some ability to wild-run or practice Parkour is handy. Even skills such as gourmet cooking can open doors to adventure. Indeed, almost any skill will create opportunities if you find a way to use it creatively. Make a list, and try to notice any obvious gaps. Then see if you can fill them with skills relevant to your adventuring life.
4. Increase Your Fitness Level – If your adventuring has a physical aspect to it, then there is a direct relationship between how fit you are and how much of the world will be open to your explorations. The better you can climb, crawl, leap, or swim, the more you’ll be able to get over that cliff, make it out to that island, or slide your way through that cave.
5. Gain Knowledge – Knowledge opens doors, and is great for making you sound worldly in conversation. With the internet, you have more knowledge at your fingertips than any human has ever had in all of history. There is SO MUCH to learn about. I make it a personal quest to learn more about things that I thought I knew about. I do this especially with food. I’ve discovered that most of the food that I thought was really good is actually pretty mediocre. There exist chocolates which will make your legs go weak. Tuna that is so delectable that you can eat it straight from the can. Butter that can’t be fully enjoyed unless you eat it spread upon nothing.
It’s easy to get locked into a world of knowledge that doesn’t reach far beyond the trappings of our everyday life. Once in a while, sit down at Google and type in something random.
6. Explore Your Fears — Your biggest obstacle to adventuring is fear. Most of us harbor a whole litany of fears, nestled into our hearts. We may fear other people, our emotions, the dark, heights, water, relationships, or what we’ll find if we ever stop for a moment and examine our lives.
Fears close the doors that lead to experience and adventure. They block off entire sections of our life so that we shy away from experiences even slightly resembling the objects of our fear. Identify your fears, and then explore them. Feel what happens when you encounter them – the tension in your body and your mind. If you look at the sensations plainly, you’ll often discover that the greatest power of fear is in our resistance. If we can just experience the sensations our fears produce, it’s not that bad. It’s when we tense against them that we really get tangled up.
7. Get Some Help – There are plenty of people and organizations that will help you explore new means of adventuring. Check out your local spelunking club, take horse-back riding lessons, get your motorcycle license, see if there is a public climbing wall you can join. Your local community probably has many more resources than you’re aware of.
8. Be a Tourist – Cultivate a tourist mentality. You may think you’re familiar with your local area, but you’re probably not. What would a tourist do if they were exploring your community? What is the regional food like? How about the art scene? What is your town like at night? What flora and fauna populate your wildlands? Who are the strangest characters in your community? What’s the history of the area in which you live?
The tourist mentality is magical. With it, you can find adventure everywhere. You can take one square foot of your own yard and be amazed at what is crawling between the blades of grass. Realize that ‘familiarity’ is really a synonym for ‘complacency’.
9. Let Passion Be Your Guide – This is the most important part. Have the courage to ask yourself what you’re passionate about. What stirs your blood, excites your sense of wonder, or fires your urge to explore? This is personal for each person, and you should never let yourself be spoon-fed a list of ‘accepted passions’ sanctioned by our culture. Then we’d just be watching TV all the time.
Get inspired by those who are passionate about what they do – whether it’s cooking, photography, sky-diving, meditation, gaming, or people-watching. Then commit yourself to experiencing what you’re passionate about. Make it a priority.
Adventuring is a lifestyle. It’s a commitment to passion, and living each day so that if your life was a novel, it would be fascinating to read. Each day you don’t challenge yourself, you grow a day older.
* Gear Notes: Magnesium firestarter and tinder/charcloth are used instead of matches to ensure a fire despite water immersion. Could probably accomplish this with a plastic bag around some matches, but that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. Two knives are carried because the Swiss Army knife has multiple tools attached (never know when you’ll have to open a bottle of wine!), and the fixed blade is carbon steel – allowing it to serve as a backup firemaker if the mag starter is lost. In my usual terrain, fresh spring water is not difficult to find, but if I was in other areas I’d include either a water filter, iodine tablets, or a container for boiling water.