Adventure has a name

Eight years ago I wrote the following, a portent of today.

4-E2E205E7-807482-800Something big struck me as I pedaled my bicycle along in the steady wind beneath the glorious sky this morning. Several streams of recent thought and discussion flowed together into one point, starting with the recollection that, about a year ago, a friend called me “a female Indiana Jones.” Next, I considered that I was always the first child in my family to try something new or different, the one who traveled well, even when stricken by Montezuma’s Revenge, or facing a night in a $3 flophouse in Mexico City. I was the kid that my parents could hardly coax out of the water, especially at the ocean. I was the one of four children who had interest—a keen and instant interest—in sailing, and at 10 years of age, I picked up the sport almost as if by instinct. I was also the child who was completely unafraid of the horses when my mother took my siblings and me for our first little riding lesson, and I was uninhibited in following instructions to make the horse walk, stop, turn, and even back up.

My earliest dream was to be like Jacques Cousteau, to travel the world aboard my own research ship, diving among reefs and wrecks, swimming with whales, dolphins, rays, groupers, octopi and sharks. When I was a teen and other girls were swooning over popular boy singers, I had a crush on Jack London, the author-adventurer who was paid to write stories based on his experiences. At age 16 I booked and took a vacation on my own, making the airline reservation, paying for the ticket, traveling to the airport, finding ground transportation, hitchhiking around New England, and driving a borrowed car with my brand new license. (Without a credit card and long before the Internet made such arrangements a snap.)

As an adult, I frequently stick my neck out, speak up, and make things happen, with little hesitation or fear of consequences. The times I have felt the most alive were during peak experiences, many of them involving adventure and even danger. My automatic reply to the recent question, “which would you rather do, run a campaign or run for office?” was “Neither! I want to jump aboard a wooden sailing ship, sail around the world, ride my bike through every port, and get paid to write about it.”

Arriving home from my bicycle ride with these thoughts converging in my head, I checked my email and found an e-newsletter bearing a startling quote from a musician named Alan Cohen, “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” I find layers of meaning in Cohen’s potent words and keep coming back to them to ponder further.

The confluence of these thoughts brought the realization that I am an adventurer and always have been. For the next few years, I will be focused on continuing to raise my kids, but eventually I need to live more accordingly to my adventurous spirit—and get paid to write about it.

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2 Responses to Adventure has a name

  1. laura says:

    Oh Shay, what a wonderful post. I’m not the adventurer you are, but resonate completely with these lines:

    “My earliest dream was to be like Jacques Cousteau, to travel the world aboard my own research ship, diving among reefs and wrecks, swimming with whales, dolphins, rays, groupers, octopi and sharks. When I was a teen and other girls were swooning over popular boy singers, I had a crush on Jack London, the author-adventurer who was paid to write stories based on his experiences.”

    The people society can’t quite understand, the people driven to explore their passions — they’re the ones who show the rest of us it’s possible to be who we are. You’re one of them.

  2. Joanne says:

    LOVE the Alan Cohen quote:
    “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

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