I love adventure stories. I am especially partial to the underdog; someone comfortably numb in their everyday situation who is suddenly faced with a dilemma. They have to make the ‘choice’ (or not) to step up and do something extra-ordinary, against the odds to accomplish an outcome for the sake of a cause, community, or even the whole of mankind.
We are drawn towards this kind of story. We love to read about ordinary people who are put in a position where they have to change, to become bigger and better in order to fulfil their destiny.
I’m sure a part of it is that we live vicariously through the character. In the beginning we are supposed to identify with them. They are where we are. And then as the story unfolds we experience adventure through the life we have identified within the character.
We recently spent a weekend watching all eight of the Harry Potter films. It was a fairly exhausting activity – about 17 hours of staring at the screen. But the question that kept going through my head was this: if he knew everything that he would have to do, would Harry Potter have started?
The adventure, the events, the exhaustion, the battles, the luck, the initiative, the strained relationships, the bruises, the sleepless nights. If he had been shown everything he would have to do what is the betting he would crawl under a rock somewhere and pretend not to exist?
One of the greatest things about being human is that we can only genuinely see all the things that we will be confronted by after we’ve been been through the experience. We don’t know what is coming, we just know what has already come, where we’ve already been, what we’ve already done.
Life and Adventure come Hand in Hand
Many of us have a longing for adventure. That’s why we live fantasies through the characters in these stories. But the truth is our adventure doesn’t involve wizards, dragons, magic swords, finding ways to kill some dark lord who is attempting to take over the world. That was someone else’s adventure.
Adventure isn’t a tangible event. It’s a mindset. An approach to living that we can all adopt. It contains creativity in its essence because it is by nature unsure.
If you are going to be a part of your own adventure then you need to embrace:
1. Chance, Fortune, Luck
‘An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered’ – G.K. Chesterton (CLICK TO TWEET)
Situations change, things happen to you and around you that you need to respond to. Rather than dwelling for too long on asking why and becoming bitter about it, your character responds decisively with wisdom and judgement. You lost your job? You see that as an opportunity. You realise the impact of the change in circumstance and they react accordingly to minimise the damage and turn it into something positive.
The better you are at responding to change, the more ‘luck’ you might find you start to have yourself.
2. Unusual or Exciting Experiences
‘If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness’ – Les Brown
Stepping into the unknown is by its very nature uncomfortable. You are scared. That is natural. Rather than turning around and running, your character acknowledges and accepts that unusual experiences are a necessary part of it.
As you experience more unusual situations, places, people, your frame of reference expands and so does your ability to cope well with being outside of your usual habitat.
3. To Try Something Different
‘People tend to play in their comfort zone, so the best things are achieved in a state of surprise, actually’ – Brian Eno
When one approach doesn’t work, rather than trying over and over your character is ready to take a risk and try something different. You invite initiative and luck into the situation even if it means attempting to do it in a way you’ve never tried before. You don’t give up.
4. To Proceed Despite the Unknown Risks or Outcome
‘Adventure without risk is Disneyland’ – Doug Coupland (Click to Tweet)
Adventure is adventure because it contains within it a lot of unknown. It is acting within mystery and un-surety. You step into it because you need to, not because you know what is going to happen to you when you do it.
Your art is your adventure. You can plan all the things you want to do with it, you can write a thesis on it, learn all the theory around it. But it doesn’t count until you actually start, and when you jump into it your character soon realises that in reality it is very different from when your read about it in books, or think about it hypothetically.
5. You Reach Somewhere New
‘Without adventure civilisation is in full decay’ – Alfred North Whitehead (Click to Tweet)
Once your adventure starts you are never going to be able to come back to the same place again. You are saying goodbye to your old life, your old patterns, your old perspective. This is one of the scariest aspects of the adventure.
You have to reject who you are right now, and accept that this is the last time you will ever be the current version of you. That as the days wind on and the adventure unfolds you will be growing, adapting, changing, your comfort zone will be expanding and you character will be growing. You have to accept that there is a chance that when you return at the end of it all things will feel different.
But if you want to embrace your art. If you want to find your unique voice among all the many voices trying to get your attention, then you’re going to have to embrace your adventure. It’s not going to be comfortable, but it is going to save your life.
You are NOT Ready
You’ll have to be ready to take risks, to use your initiative and creativity, to face unknown outcomes, unusual experiences, exhaustion, to meet all sorts of people, to surprise yourself and those around you.
You are never ready, you just have to start.