Meanwhile, Patrick started a series, Brave Endeavors, where local people who've done adventurous things give talks about their experiences. My teammates and I spoke about adventure racing, and I've been to amazing talks about running the Leadville 100 and riding a bike across the country. I love this series, and what it's brought home to me more than anything is that regular people are doing really interesting things.
|Dave, Patrick, and Rod|
I could have listened to those guys talk all night. Rod's pictures and stories from cross-country (Canada and Australia) bike trips only added fuel to my bicycle adventure fire, and seeing/hearing about his descents of different river systems made me slightly reconsider my anti-paddling stance.
|Rod talking about his adventures.|
Photo credit: Dave Cornthwaite
Dave's website has an essay written by Dave Eggers (author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), with a quote that just jumped out at me:
No is for wimps. No is for pussies. No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message.I think about a couple of the "questionable" things I've said yes to and how they've enriched my life, and it's hard to dispute the value of the affirmative:
- Taking up mountain biking even though I'm a huge wimp and afraid of everything.
- Driving 2.5 hours to spend a day alone in the woods with a bunch of strange guys I'd barely/never met.
- Tackling a 200-mile bike race on less than a month of training (and no appropriate bike)?
You keep going on about adventure...Adventure is no more than discomfort and annoyance recollected in the safety of reminiscence. (From The Journeyer, by Gary Jennings)While it may be true that parts of adventure are more fun in retrospect than when you're knee-deep, every struggle is a deposit in your memory bank. So much of in our "real lives" feature manufactured stress -- which brand to buy, whose turn is it to fold the laundry, what's the right way to hang the toilet paper (over the roll, most definitely) -- and we blanket ourselves in comfort until opportunities to face physical challenges are rare.
We rarely do ourselves justice. (Dave Cornthwaite, in his book Life in the Slow Lane)It's a shame, too, because challenge enriches and refines. Dave showed a picture of his pre-Expedition 1000 self, sprawled out on two sofa-sized bean bags playing video games. It's hard to imagine a bigger contrast than between his past and current selves. You probably wouldn't even notice the video game guy if he was standing (more likely sitting) in front of you, but you couldn't miss the man we met. He was full of passion and excitement for what he does and...ok, I'll say it...he was kind of hot. I wouldn't have recognized him from his old picture: proof that happiness and purpose are the best kind of makeover.
I see that in myself, too. Other than my wedding pictures and our most recent family pictures, some of my very favorite pictures of myself come from racing and training. I may be freezing/sweating/filthy/exhausted, but I'm typically smiling or laughing and having fun, and that shines through the dirt.
|Collage from 2013 Thunder Rolls, without doubt the stinkiest, dirtiest, and grossest I've ever been.|