When I sit in LA traffic, which occupies a larger percentage of my life than I would choose of my own volition, I sometimes feel that pull right in the center of my gut. It’s the part of me that wants to dash right out of my body and on to the set of Fast and Furious. The part that if she was in “Inside Out” would be wearing climbing gear and a Go Pro mounted on her head. She would be called Adventure.
She’s my favorite. And sometimes in those moments before I fall asleep at night, Adventure beguiles me with her stories. Our stories.
About that time I stood on a lighthouse on the North Shore in Denmark with the wind whipping through my hair and the rocks rolling like thunder in the waves. Or that time when every cell in my body exploded with electricity during the last laps of the men’s 10K in the Olympic Stadium in London. She makes my heart beat fast when she reminisces about that afternoon when I clung desperately to the guide ropes, hauling myself up Half Dome in Yosemite, or when I dug my toes in a little deeper under the edge of the raft as we hit Class 4 rapids on the Kern.
She and I soar with exhilaration remembering our runs through the gardens in Versailles, driving through the blue glacier snow of the Swiss Alps, or holding hands during the scary ghost walk in York. Once we even pretended to be Jane Austen in Bath. She dared me to try to hold my breath through the Chunnel (not a good idea), sing Elmo to hear my echo in the dome of St. Paul’s and even to throw a penny off the top of the Eiffel tower. (I refrained, although I did try haggis in Edinburgh while she had a good laugh.)
When nostalgic, Adventure reminds me of being a little girl hauling in a Spanish mackerel on a fishing boat off the coast of Biloxi and about getting up at dawn to collect sand dollars on Jekyll Island. In a solemn moment we remember placing a teenaged prayer in the Western Wall and staring wide-eyed at the shattered mosaic still visible in the ruins of Masada.
But our favorite memory of all times, that one that lulls me to sleep most often, is the story of that one particular sunset in the boundary waters between Minnesota and Canada when we sat in a canoe in the middle of a lake, miles from civilization and listened to loons call their haunting call. Spellbound as they danced their courtship dance. Elegantly arching into synchronized dives, quick circles underwater and sudden explosions into the air. Feeling both the most alive and the most exhausted that one could simultaneously contain in the flesh.
I love adventure. I am adventure. She is me.
Which means that sometimes I have been guilty of plodding. Plodding along through the regular. Dragging myself through the mundane. Checking off days in the interim. Waiting for the next adventure. Waiting for the weekend. Waiting for the good stuff.
Which is a real pity.
Because there is more of the plodding than there is of the spectacular. A lot more of the middle then there is of the edges. So a couple years ago, as I was immersing myself into the world of mindfulness and meditation I made a radical decision. I was no longer going to divide my weeks into “week days” and “weekends.” They were just going to be days. And each one was going to contain seconds and hours and minutes and imbedded into each one of those little nanoseconds was going to be adventure. Because I was going to be fully in those moments and I was adventure.
Instead of biding my time until the dental cleaning was over, I was going to allow myself to be fully mesmerized by the life story of my sweet hygienist. Instead of “pushing through” the drudgery of cleaning, I was going to pick up each framed photo I dusted and remember that moment, pray about that sweet face. Each mopping of the floor would become a blessing of the feet that were going to track in a new layer of dirt. Sometimes I would get really crazy and make a wager with myself over whether or not I will get the king fitted sheet on in the right direction on the first try. And best of all, when I found myself sitting in that LA traffic, I could study the faces of the people on my right or left, look to see if there were babies buckled in the back seat, imagine their stories, their futures, their struggles, their joys. It became a super thrilling game and a wonderful prayer catalyst. In fact, in living adventure unlimited I had this profound revelation that while things like standing on the Great Wall of China were truly great, standing in a blazing hot band room helping 80 freshman get fitted for their band uniforms had a once in a lifetime glory to it as well.
I haven’t fully arrived in a state of perpetual adventure, but my heart does beat more wildly with excitement on a typical Tuesday afternoon than it ever used to. I don’t look at my calendar and think, “I’ll be done at 6, only 5 hours to go..” quite as often. Instead I look at the names of clients that are penciled in that calendar and think, “What an adventurous afternoon I will have with these beautiful, weary, broken and blessed people who have come into my life to pursue growth and wholeness and healing.” That is a definite adventure.
Because of this bold decision to nix the discrepancy between work day and play day, real life and vacation life, adventure and I have new stories to review at bedtime. Sometimes we replay the moment that morning when my son walked out of his bedroom into the dust bespeckled dawn, scruffy headed, eye-boogered, and in too short jammies, and how my eyes shone upon him like I was staring at a Monet. Adventure and I giggle, and tear up a little, at the story of my opening the dryer for the 4,622 time and realizing as I fold the sweet smelling warmth that my baby girl’s clothes are the same size as mine. Adventure and I hold each other tight as we unwrap the gift of vulnerability we were granted at school that day when a beautiful towheaded fifth grader raised his hand slowly and reminisced, “I can remember everything about that day. Where I was. What I was wearing. Where we were sitting. It was six years ago when they told me they were getting a divorce and I can remember everything. But I can’t even remember what I did for my last birthday.”
Adventure doesn’t have to just be at the edges, doesn’t have to be at the end of a plane ride, at the tear of a concert ticket or on the side of a mountain. Adventure is just adding yourself fully to all the ventures of your life.
Oh, of course, Adventure and I still anticipate cycling the Oregon coast one day. Still long for the way the beach smells when we pull up to our vacation house in Cayucos on a Friday afternoon. And the big one we can hardly contain is the thought of one day holding our first grandbaby. But until that day comes, I will be bedazzled by freshly painted pink toenails, the sight of my husband pulling up to the house on his bicycle, my son marching across the football field with Apache pride, or my daughter wobbling across Macy’s in ridiculous silver heels.
And, of course, the sound of the alarm clock reminding me that Adventure and I have a big day ahead of us.
This adventure of a blog roll continues with my dear friend Megan’s post. Adventure on my friends! http://megontap.blogspot.com/2015/09/adventuring-through-middles-ages.html
I love adventuring through life with you. I can’t wait for our trip to Oregon.
What a good reminder to not be weighed down by the mundane! You are adventure, that is so true!
love this. Learning the same lessons with you friend, and trying to practice then in my plodding!
I loved this. It is both beautiful and exciting, but more than that it is a reminder to disconnect from the chatter within and around me, and to be fully engaged in the adventure of each moment. Thank you!
Thanks for sharing this, Susan! I’m trying to do the same. Realizing how quickly time passes and not wanting to miss a thing. I feel like I know better after reading this. This may be my favorite I’ve read of yours!