Adopting an Attitude of Adventure
- Thursday, February 02, 2012
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
My merry band of foodie friends and I were in New York to sing at Carnegie Hall—an adventure in itself, but that’s another story. We visited Chelsea Market, home of Food Network, with one goal: an “I was here” photo in front of the Food Network logo. Alas, the logo was nowhere to be found, even after totally unauthorized trips up random elevators in the faint hope of running into an Iron Chef. (We did stumble onto an imposing news network office, but mumbled excuses and hit the “down” button. Fast.)
We also spotted a notice about an event to be held the following day, which included an interview with the Food Network Test Kitchen’s Executive Chef. (Pay attention.) So we came back (take the first step) and had a marvelous time at the event. (Expect to enjoy yourself.) During the program we were an engaged audience (show interest). Once the program was over, we engaged the Chef in conversation and inquired about the logo. (Ask questions.) “It’s not anywhere you can get to,” he explained, “but…I can take you there.”
Which is how we got our own personal mini-tour of Chelsea Market, recommendations on restaurants and attractions, and a rather fabulous photo with not just the logo, but with the Executive Chef, as well. They were filming inside so we didn’t get a kitchen tour (be sensible) but it was a highlight of our trip nonetheless. We thanked Chef profusely (be nice) and I managed not to squeal like a little girl until the elevator was on its way down.
What if we hadn’t been able to take that photo? It still would have been a fun day, an out-of-the-ordinary experience, and an excellent adventure. It’s attitude, not outcome, that makes the difference.
The Best Adventure of All
One of my favorite adventurous people is author and speaker Luci Swindoll, who tells us: “The most important thing for each of us is to embrace and celebrate life for what it is. Being alive is a gift, and we will never exhaust all the adventures of possibilities that are ours because Jesus Christ has provided an inexhaustible legacy for us, established before the foundation of the world. Every day he opens new doors for us to walk through. He gives us a new way of looking at old problems. He challenges us to take him at his word as we consider how to resolve different dilemmas. He assures us of his constant presence. And here’s the best adventure of all—He lives in us! We can go anywhere and do anything, because the One who leads us never fails.”[i]
So, what do you think? Are you ready for an adventure?
[i] I Married Adventure © 2002 Luci Swindoll. Published in Nashville, Tennessee by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.
Susan Ellingburg is a natural-born Texan who sings at every opportunity, reads as much as possible, and cherishes every day she gets to spend with friends. She's a serious foodie and not-so-serious gardener who is determined not to let being single stand in the way of living an amazing life. Read Susan's blog at TastingGod.wordpress.com.
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