I believe in adventure, in feeling the cold, refreshing air of winter against my skin, and swimming in strange bodies of water, and venturing off somewhere far from where everyone else is. I believe we are meant to use our lungs and legs and to push our bodies beyond what most would consider 'comfortable' even if only for a short period of time. I believe I am solar powered, that I literally gain energy and life by being outdoors. And I believe that you are too.
But sadly, we are stifled in our adventure by 'caution' and 'common sense' and 'complacency' which are all really just synonyms for fear and coping mechanisms for the comfortable. Many of us have forgotten that we once lived as a part of the great outdoors, and not hidden away from them. Some people would call this progress and argue that we've worked and fought hard to not have to commune with nature and put ourselves in peril, but I believe we do have to do those things in order to remember what living feels like sometimes.
For instance, I've been heading out on snowshoe adventures lately. Last weekend, I ended up in the backwoods at Miquelon Lake. It's a trail I know well, and I was prepared to see wildlife. And I did.
I was retelling the tale to my mom later on that night. I had been keeping my eyes peeled as I came around one of the many gorgeous knobs or kettles that generally make up the topography of the area when I saw a moose running in the other direction. It was far enough away, and had no doubt heard me coming, but I still proceeded with caution as I know how quickly moose can travel and how dangerous they can be.
But more than that, I'm aware that there are certain things I can do before ever intruding on moose territory, such as be loud. Announcing my presence is one way to ensure the moose know well ahead of time that something else is nearby, and gives them plenty of time to get elsewhere. It's the surprise encounter that you want to avoid at all costs.
I happily watched the moose run away, ensuring that our paths weren't yet to cross, then proceeded down the trail. A short while later, I crossed paths with a deer. It was the funniest thing! I was trekking along when I looked to the side and saw that I had just cut the deer off its intended path. It froze where it stood, just staring at me. I continued right along my merry way, looking back again. There it stood, still frozen. I imagined she was saying to herself, in a high-pitched, worried Marge Simpson voice, "what is that? What is it doing here? Why is that girl here? It doesn't make any sense!" Eventually, the deer thawed and moved along, back the way she came.
So my mom naturally asked if I had been alone on this particular trek, to which I replied, "Were you not listening? I was with the moose and that deer!"
All joking aside, I love being an adventurer. I know my limits and am prepared for emergencies. I tell people where I'm going, how long I expect to be and when I'm back. I research where I'm going and don't underestimate the dangers I may face. And more importantly I know that there is always an element of risk. Yet, I'm still labeled an idiot by some of my well-meaning friends and family.
We, the human race, managed to survive thousands of years in such conditions, right alongside nature, yet I am an idiot.
People spend all of their time eating junk food indoors, never seeing a ray of sunlight, never using their legs but to propel themselves the short distance to the fridge, yet I am an idiot.
Even more than the peril of living an unhealthy lifestyle, we daily get into vehicles which cause more accidents and deaths than almost anything, yet I am an idiot.
People get their adventure in the form of video games and movies but never so much as dare to step out of line, to cause a stir, to stick up for what they believe in or fight for what they love most, yet I am an idiot.
I'm afraid those people have all been duped. We only live this way because that's what we see and know. We're only scared of the outdoors because we've come to believe we're safe indoors. And we only tell others that they're idiots because that's easier than challenging ourselves, than trying something new, than getting out of our comfort zone.
And I'm lucky that I don't believe that I am an idiot. I am an adventurer.
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