No matter what kind of person you are today, I bet you were once an adventurer. As an infant, you probably dared to stretch out of your comfort zone toward the unknown. If you were healthy, you lifted your knees, hands, hips and you explored. Your fingers and toes found soft and hard, your bones discovered up and down, your joints rotated your body into uncharted territories. If able, you likely explored new sounds like “ma, da, bah,” that connected you to other living things. You learned the feeling of love for the first time, and you tasted your own tears. Eventually, you journeyed across rooms, seeking buttons to push, pots to bang, cupboards to open, stairways to climb. If your limbs were steady, you lifted your way up and toddled across ground for the first time; you scampered down pathways, inspecting objects like stones and grass and maybe mother’s drawers. Eventually, you discovered school, neighborhoods, towns and a world waiting for you to explore.
Probably, this morning before you could fully wake to feel your body, your mind fiddled with adventures. What do I want to change about the world? What person have I not found the courage to speak with? What activity have I dared not try? Just beneath the surface, it seems that you and I are always young. There’s a current inside of us bustling with inquiry, dreams, hopes, courage and adventure …
But for many of us, adulthood, particularly parenthood, halts the spirit of adventure. Our culture, our budget and our narrow vision of acceptable build a dam before the river of wonder inside of us. Our children say, “Look Mom! Look at that spider, that spinning top, that little lake. Did you hear about the mushroom house in the forest?”
But many of us don’t find time to look, to listen. We watch our cell phones, our schedules, our predictable paths to get from here to there. We track “likes,” grade point averages, salaries. We study lists. We avoid new activities, new friendships. We don’t learn about that family, that faith, that nationality different from ours. We don’t visit the neighborhood, the town, the nation unfamiliar. If we’re not careful, we stop asking, listening, wondering, reaching. We stop living.
But as long as we’re breathing, it seems to me that we can become adventurers – anytime, anywhere. The following are a handful of ideas to inspire the adventuring spirit in you:
Stop rushing. Take a walk, drink a cup of tea, pray. Sit at the kitchen table, alone, and listen. Hear the birds, the breeze, the questions, the desires in your own mind. Write poetry. Stretch. Swim in the lake all alone.
Head down a new path. Walk to school instead of drive. Go a different way. Meet a new mom, a neighbor you haven’t acknowledged. Volunteer to do a job you’ve never done, to help a person you otherwise wouldn’t meet. Explore a new career. Listen to your children, spouse and friends with fresh ears.
Make-believe. I love to write fiction. In my imaginary world, I get to transform into any body, any place I choose. I get to do, be, see whatever I want. This sense of wonder eventually translates to real life. It empowers me. What sparks your imagination? How can you picture yourself in a different situation? Where can you imagine going? What would it look or feel like?
Fear not. Have you ever noticed how most toddlers are unafraid? So onward they explore. What are you afraid of? Fear keeps us from skiing for the first time, climbing the mountain, traveling abroad, watching a sunset. Fear prevents us from letting out the adventurer inside.
Have faith. The absence of fear is faith, I think. Believe that you are loved. Know that you’re not alone, even when you take risks. You’re meant to fall, to change courses, to get stuff wrong sometimes. This falling and rising and falling again – this is the gorgeous stuff of an epic adventure. It is your one and only time to be a mom, to live this moment, hour, this year. This is your incredible adventure – it is your life.
Amy Aves Challenger is an American expat and writer/artist living in Switzerland. She is a contributor to The MOPS Magazine and The Huffington Post. Amy mostly writes about topics relating to the marginalized, families and nature. She has been published in The Washington Post, Mamalode.com, and Brain, Child Magazine and her poems and short story were published in an anthology by Kind of A Hurricane Press. Her poetry can be read almost daily on Twitter @amychallenger and Instagram.