I once interviewed a delightful cookbook author from Georgia who got one of those ‘things to do before you die’ books for her sixtieth birthday and declared, “I’m going to open this book at random and whatever page I land on, I’ll do.” She confessed to me she was hoping for “visit a world-class spa” or something similar. What she got was “climb Mount Kilimanjaro.”

“And?” I asked.

“Oh, I did it,” she drawled. “Took me a couple years to train, but I did it.”

Now that’s an adventure. But so is taking a side road instead of the interstate, joining the church choir, or trying your hand at a soufflé instead of the usual PB&J. Adventures are not reserved for the rich, the young, the accomplished, or the brave. Adventure, my friends, is an attitude.

There’s a big difference between enduring each day and enjoying it. I’ve done both in my time and the second option is definitely best. What’s the point of life if you’re not going to live it? Having an attitude of adventure means being open to the possibilities. It means asking “I wonder” “What if” and “Why not?” It means shaking off the fog that covers us so much of the time, looking at life with a fresh perspective, and being willing to do something about it.

For the record, my personal style of adventure does not involve mountain climbing or pulling the kind of stunt that tends to land one on the evening news. It’s more the type of thing that tends to land me up to my elbows in boneless duck, at a private showing of a sculptor’s work, or . . . um . . . kicked out of Westminster Abbey. (But that’s a story for another day.) Regardless, I’ve never yet had an adventure that was not totally worth it.

For those who are new at this adventure thing, here are a few tips.

Advice for Would-Be Adventurers

  • Pay attention. This is key: I can only imagine how many opportunities I miss every day because I’m not alert to the opportunities around me.
  • Expect to enjoy yourself. If you decide in advance to have a good time, odds are you probably will. If you go looking for reasons to be unhappy, I promise you will find them.
  • Take the first step. You don’t always need to take a huge leap of faith; often a little hop is all that’s required.
  • Show interest. You may not think you care about the topic at hand, but you never know where it may go. Discussing a glassblower’s work led to a fabulous love story (they met in glass class but she didn’t speak English and it wasn’t until years later…), an up close and personal view of glassmaking in progress, and the gift of a hand-blown vase. And the best way to show interest is to…
  • Ask questions. There’s nothing wrong with honest ignorance; only God is truly all-knowing. Most people love to share their expertise with someone willing to listen. “What made you decide to be a (whatever they are)?” “How did you learn to (do whatever it is they do)?” “You know that logo we see on TV, the one on the wall…?” Just ask! What’s the worst that can happen?
  • Be sensible. Actually, “what’s the worst that can happen” is a valid question and one you should ask yourself at the start. The sculpture viewing mentioned earlier would have been a little creepy had there not been three of us and only one slightly loopy artist. Being sensible also helps keep expectations in check. Adventures come in all shapes and sizes; some are more exciting than others.
  • Be nice. The old saying goes, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” and besides, it’s the right thing to do. Nice will take you far, whether it’s to the best steak you’ll ever eat in the middle of nowhere, the front row of a sold-out musical, or the inner sanctum of your favorite television network.

A Real-Life Example