In Search of Discomfort

There is a disturbing societal trend taking place in our country. It may be infecting the whole world, for all I know.

The trend is toward adventuring. Now, I am all for adventures. I have lived my life as an adventure. I have many scars and near-death stories to share as a result. What I am bothered by is the heroification of “safe adventuring.”

If you want to go camping in a motor home, that is perfectly fine with me. I'm sure I would enjoy it too. But please don't confuse that with a genuine adventure. Adventure, by my definition, requires a bold step into the unknown, the uncertain, the potentially unsafe, and certainly the uncomfortable. Carefully calculated, risk-mitigated activities are not adventures.

I suspect this trend stems from two roots. The first is the notion that we are entitled to a life of comfort and satisfaction. We are not. That is neither a Constitutional guarantee, nor is it in the Bible. Second is the proliferation of “reality” TV show. I only have secondhand experience with the reality show stuff, as we do not have a TV. But from what I have heard, “people who live just like we did in Alaska,” do not live anything like we did in Alaska.

Maybe I should have posted a spoiler alert there. Sorry. Those shows are as staged as a Broadway musical. When I got hurt, or stuck, or lost, or threatened by a wild beast, there was no one else around to record the event. There was no one to call out to for help. There was no safety network.

It may have been foolhardy, but that was reality. Try walking thirteen hours out of the mountains after getting good and lost, soaked, and all but unconscious with hypothermia. First time, do it without anyone in the world knowing where you are. Next time, try it with a camera crew, aerial shots and all. One of these things is not like the other.

Okay, that's out of my system. I feel better.

Surprisingly, the primary objective of an adventure is not discomfort. The primary objective is learning or discovering something. No one ever learned the limits of their strength, character, or skill by watching someone else do something amazing. They learned it when they surpassed their own comfort zone. That would include discomfort.

No one ever discovered a new continent, or stepped on the moon, or climbed to the top of a rugged mountain, while walking on a sidewalk. They discovered those places long after the safe horizon had disappeared. I'm pretty sure that included discomfort too.

I could go on here, but I'm not actually promoting anything. I am only making a distinction between activities and adventures.

On second thought, maybe I am promoting something. Do you want to climb a mountain? Do you want to go to Kenya and volunteer at an orphanage? Do you want to build your own house? Do you want to study something? What are you afraid of?

Have an adventure! Live as if you are alive! Maybe don't do some of the really stupid risky stuff I have done, but stretch yourself. It will hurt. Do it anyway!