I struggled with including this line in the Live Extraordinary Manifesto: “Make every day an adventure.”
I’ll explain why by telling you about a friend of mine, a starry-eyed, adventurous, world-traveling romantic. He’s trekked to so many different places across the globe that foreign embassies have had to keep stapling more pages into his passport.
He’s been up close with gorillas in Africa. He’s walked through the olive groves of Jerusalem. He’s sailed the Mediterranean. He’s seen flamenco dancing in Spain and danced the tango in Argentina. He once slipped past armed guards to check out Bosnia.
The first time I met him, when we were both twenty years old, he shared with me his “bucket list” — and to describe it as ambitious would be a gross understatement.
If anyone knows how to live with adventure, it’s him.
Trouble is, his adventurous spirit hides a troubling truth: His adventures aren’t a quest for life, but an escape from life.
He’s never married because no woman could ever live up to his romanticized — and frankly naïve and selfish — vision of womanhood. And that’s just a front for his fear of the responsibility of marriage and family.
He stays on the road because he’s plagued by a constant discontentment — “regular” life holds no charm for him. His world travels are less manifestations of intrepid passion and more symptoms of an unwillingness to grow up and face real life.
Call me a stick-in-the-mud adult pirate, but Peter Pan isn’t exactly my model of success. Keep in mind that while he and the Lost Boys were out playing with swords and seeking for treasure, Wendy was back home washing the dishes and cooking their dinner.
In all our talk of living our dreams, let’s not forget that most of life is boring routines.
I struggled with that line in the manifesto because the vast majority of my own days are commonplace and tedious — doing the same stuff over and over again. That’s not because I’m boring or unadventurous, it’s just the nature of adult life.
Every single day, the dishes have to be washed. Kids have to be dressed and fed. There are emails to respond to, bills to pay. (Luckily, since I work from home, I only have to shave once a week.) A lot of my work isn’t stuff I’m particularly thrilled about.
Making every day an adventure is not an escape from life’s routines and responsibilities. Rather, it’s a call to discover and create adventures in our daily routines.
The key to living a life of adventure is not to ditch the burdens of adulthood, but to simply recognize the miraculous in everything.
Says John Ruskin,
“I am not surprised at what men suffer, but I am surprised at what men miss.”
How many boring days do we suffer working on computers without acknowledging the mind-blowing miracle of computers?
Eden Phillpotts added,
“The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
Seeing the magic doesn’t require us to travel or go bungee jumping. It simply requires a heightened sense of gratitude and a perpetual curiosity — consciously choosing to live in a constant state of wonder.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m a big believer in bucket lists, passion, and adventure. In fact, all of us should probably seek more adventure.
The challenge is when we romanticize adventure to the point of being disillusioned with regular life. Regular life is adventurous, but it requires the right mindset to be so.
“The world is so full of a number of things; I am sure we should all be as happy as kings,” noted Robert Louis Stevenson.
And why are we not happy? Wordsworth answers that,
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers…”
We got so bogged down by haste, busyness, clutter, and possession-seeking that we fail to see the enchantment and beauty right in front of our noses. Consumed by the worldly, we fail to appreciate the world.
As Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote,
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush
afire with God;
But only he who sees,
takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it,
and pluck blackberries.
Peter Pan had it all wrong. For those with eyes to see, growing up is the greatest adventure of all.