Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An adventure is what you make it

In the very first pages of her text, Jill Fredston answers the question of why adventure, which we have been wondering at all semester: "people question why we undertake these trips at all. They might as well ask us why we breathe or eat. Our journeys are food for our spirits, clean air for our souls. We don't care if they are firsts or farthests" (xv). She suggests that there is some part of a human being that cannot be satisfied by the usual means (food, water, shelter, even contact with other humans). In fact, it can only be satisfied by risking the accessibility of these life sustaining elements. Why adventure? Because it's soul sustenance.

But (there's always gotta be a "but" when it comes to definitions of the word "adventure"), is this an overarching definition? Can we apply it to ALL the texts we've read? Of course not! With the exception of Norgay, and possibly Bancroft, I don't think any of our authors were trying to feed their spirits in a way they couldn't in the real world. Many of them were determined to be "firsts and farthests". But does that mean Fredston's definition is wrong? I don't think so. If there's one thing we've learned this semester, it's that everyone has their own personal definition of what an adventure is. On the occasions we've been asked to share our adventures with one another, we each chose very different stories. We told of new experiences in which we risked nothing more than humiliation; or serious life-threatening events that we had gotten ourselves into. We told tales of fear and of fun, of nervousness and anticipation. And while there may be some very general way to fit all of our personal adventures under one umbrella (like "something that happens"), I don't think we can pinpoint every exact personal definition of the word. And you know what? I think that's pretty awesome. I don't think I was alone in entering this class with a very clear idea of what adventure was. For me I defined it as a big journey, in which your life was threatened in some way. When Janelle first asked us to come to class with a personal adventure to share, I panicked. I'd never had a personal adventure that fit my very narrow definition. But then I started to think about my life. I thought about working in British Columbia for 6 weeks, leaving my family and very new romantic relationship behind to be with 18 people I only knew by name (and barely even that much). I thought about how I'm starting my own business this summer, and how I very well could be pissing upwards of $300 down the toilet. Now that I've read Fredston, I'm thinking about all the kayak trips I've taken with my dad (my kayak's name is Geraldine and my dad's is Clifford, if anyone cares) where my life wasn't at risk and I was pretty sure of the outcome, but I still spent some time alone with my thoughts (I'm not a big talker and neither is my dad), which is really an adventure in itself. You never know what you'll learn. So, in short, I don't think we'll ever be able to develop a perfect, concise definition of the word adventure. It's one of those things that varies by person. But I think the fact that we've even come to that realization shows how much we've learned, about one another and about ourselves.

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