There's an interesting dichotomy between the fulfillment that accompanies completing an adventure and the sense of emptiness once it is over. There's the "euphoria, the overwhelming sense of release" (25) that accompanied Krakauer's return from the ice, but there's also the "unexpected melancholy" (25) that loomed close behind. For Krakauer, climbing the Devil's Thumb didn't prove to be the "glorious transformation" (26) that he was expecting; in this sense he was let down. However, even though Krakauer didn't accomplish what he initially sought, he did learn patience, common sense about nature's limits, and, retrospectively, he realized he gained maturity. So, even though adventures, however incredible, can have an accompanying sense of emptiness or loss, they are worthwhile. Besides the in-the-moment benefits and exhilarations, adventures renew perspectives. Adventuring, whether alone like Krakauer or with a companion like Stempf, requires definite self-awareness, independence, and self-reliance. Once an adventure ends, these qualities still remain, even if there are struggles of readjustment. Escapes can be planned or unintentional, and the realities of an escape and the knowledge gained from one can be surprising.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
I think the worst part of an adventure is the final leg of the journey. I define 'adventure' loosely here; it can be as simple as a walk in the Glen or as extreme as a polar expedition. My interpretation of 'adventure,' at least in this instance, is one that provides an escape from daily life and is truly freeing. Mingled with every escape is the thrill of the unknown, the refreshment of solitude, the delight of freedom, and the invigoration of a release from society. I think one of the biggest struggles in an adventure is its final stretch, that moment when you're almost back to 'reality' (reality meaning daily life, because I am not saying that adventures aren't real). The hardest part is when you begin to switch out of whatever emotions your adventure inspired: peacefulness, fear, comfort, despair, exhilaration, desire, spontaneity, recklessness. Letting go of the consuming nature of an adventure requires an acceptance of the inevitable return to day-to-day life. My least favorite part of excursions is when those consuming thoughts begin to shift back to schedules, meetings, and seemingly insignificant concerns. The end of Krakauer's journey reflects this same tone. There's something downright depressing about ending an adventure. Even if one's goals for the trip are accomplished, there can always be that sense of longing to be back in nature.