I recently congratulated a friend on two years of sobriety.
“Dropping the bottle was the easy part,” she said. “Facing down all the crap that made me want to drink in the first place was the hard part.”
I was impressed. I would not have been more impressed if she’d told me she had climbed a mountain. I don’t really want to admit in our Adventure issue how much less impressed I would have been if she’d told me she had climbed a mountain.
In fact, I would go so far as to claim that she did climb a mountain.
A metaphorical one – a mountain of personal demons.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, or anyone who has followed this column, that I am a big, old coward where the climbing of actual mountains is concerned.
I have all the adventure-related phobias: fear of heights, fear of confining spaces, fear of excessive speed, fear of the cost of special shoes, etc. But I am almost fearless when it comes to climbing metaphorical mountains.
This issue of our fine magazine is filled with outdoor adventures and they’re all worth having.
I would never say anything against outdoor adventures or the people who enjoy having them, especially in view of their high level of physical fitness and the equally high likelihood that they could beat me up. Not that they would. But they could.
I am also a big, old coward where the likelihood of being beaten up is concerned.
It’s just that I have set a task for myself of exploring here alternative definitions of adventure. Meaning, alternatives to what you might find defined elsewhere in this issue.
Which makes what I am about to do pretty adventurous, come to think of it.
I don’t know about you, but people are always telling me to get out of my comfort zone.
It’s become such a hackneyed phrase that I want to tell them, “You should get out of your comfort zone and find a more interesting way of saying, ‘comfort zone.'”
The term “comfort zone,” according to Megan Garber in The Atlantic, is “ecological in origin.”
“It refers to the range of temperatures at which organisms will not need to expend energy on thermoregulation,” she wrote.
In the wild, non-human creatures want to stay inside their comfort zones because they don’t want to die.
In human society, some people get out of their comfort zones because they feel like they aren’t risking death enough.
I never feel like I am not risking death enough.
“Define adventure for yourself” is my advice.
There is no “one size fits all” adventure. We all have different physical and psychological limitations. We all have different emotional baggage.
Only you know the true parameters of your comfort zone and how it was formed.
So, my belief is that an adventure can be anything that challenges a fear or a prejudice, anything that breaks a bad habit or a tired routine, anything that expels a ghost that’s been haunting you.
An adventure can be anything that surprises you and makes you see the world in a different way.
Most controversial of all: I believe an adventure can be something you should be able to do while wearing Crocs.