Ode to Adventure

“Written by Rae but originally posted as a guest post on US based site: http://landonfaulkner.com/ode-to-adventure/ a site well worth a visit if you have a passion for adventure”

Devote (verb ) – give entirely to a specific person, activity, or cause.

Have you ever stopped and looked at the word, ‘devote’? It is not a word used very often yet every single one of us, in some way, is devoted to something or someone. I think the reason why the word is not used in most people’s vocabularies these days is because society in general is hell bent on convenience and comfort.

There is no devotion in convenience. Devotion speaks of commitment, perseverance, an ability to remain patient and consistent through difficult circumstances or situations while pressing on to achieve a goal or purpose.

When my Grandfather was my age he would go down to his local food market which was run by a close knit family that knew each of their loyal customers by name, they knew what they liked and how they liked it.

They were devoted to providing their customers with consistent personal assistance. Nowadays I go down to my local supermarket, no one knows my name, no one takes an interest in what I might be needing, everything is processed and vacuum packed for ‘convenience’.

The only focus is ‘dollars and cents’. The only commitment, the profit margin. The only devotion, making something as cheap as possible to sell it as high as possible.

So what does all this have to do with adventure, or running or actually anything outdoor related? Well you see as everything around us has become convenient the concept of an ‘adventure’ as been so diluted that nowadays a trip to a different hair stylist is considered an adventure. Where are the Sir Edmund Hillary’s, the Ernest Shackleton’s, or the Ranulph Fiennes’s of today? Some people would argue that great feats of the past have been conquered, and there is nothing left to explore. We can see it all on our TV’s so why should we venture out. In one day we can see the vastness of the Grand Canyon, the peaks of Everest and the depths of Great Barrier Reef, all from the comfort of ones own living room.

No wonder devotion has been replaced by convenience. In the days of Sir Edmund Hillary anything short of a radical devotion to ones goals would mean, to them, a life of mediocrity and never having the chance of experiencing something great. Convenience didn’t cause Ranulph Fieness to become the first man to cross Antarctica on foot. Nor did it cause Reinhold Messner to become the first man to summit Mount Everest without the help of oxygen tanks. Convenience would have kept them at home, comfortably next to their fire place, warm and nestled up while they watched others achieve their life’s ambitions. It was nothing short of a radical devotion that enabled them to achieve the impossible. While everyone said it could not be done, they devoted themselves to finding ways to get it done. They were committed almost to the point of what some would classify as insanity, they persevered through failure and overcame great trials when everyone else gave up.

One of my favourite accounts of die hard devotion is one I heard of Scott Jurek at the Badwater Ultra Marathon, as far as I remember he collapsed on his face around half way totally dehydrated and spent. The distance between him and the leaders growing further and further apart. Instead of abandoning like most people would he got up, collected himself, started running again and went on to win the race when everyone said he wouldn’t be able compete against the roadies conditioned for that amount of pounding on the tar. That for me is a classic example of devotion. It would have been convenient for him to allow his support crew to carry him to the support vehicle and transport him back to the finish, it would have been convenient for him to skip a training session because it was raining or because he wasn’t feeling up to it but I guarantee you he had a goal to win and he was devoted, come hell or high water he was devoted to achieve it. Someone once said, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” I disagree, I prefer to say, “Suffering is inevitable, the key is to suffer well.” Devotion will see you persevere through suffering, it’s not to say that you won’t suffer if you are devoted but it will keep you consistent, it will keep you committed. Convenience will give you the easy way out.

What if the Sir Edmund Hillary’s of today are the ones who courageously throw off the comforts of today’s convenience and devote themselves to making adventure. True adventure, not the ‘bolt on’ kind like those who kit their trucks out with the best expedition gear known to man yet their tyres never leave Hollywood Boulevard and their reserve tanks never see a drop of fuel. Their eyes never see the real thing, only a replica. Their faces never get covered with dirt from a place most people will never know existed. What if we devoted ourselves to the kind of adventure that gets your palms sweaty and raises your heart rate by just thinking about it. The kind of adventure that no matter what life throws your way, like Vincent Van Gogh you can press on and say, “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

If by our lack of devotion we teach the next generation that convenience is better than devotion, that comfort is better than commitment. I am afraid the wide eyed hunger for adventure, the zealous passion for what’s beyond the horizon, the depth of the wandering spirit of the human race will quickly become as deep as the bottom of a wet grande half-caf skinny cappuccino to go.