Why would one risk their lives walking wires, climbing impossible mountains or sliding down icy slopes at breakneck speeds? Why put life and limb at stake for a few moments of adrenaline?
One would say that it is the thrill of achievement, a mental directive for a goal which makes body and mind stir in unison. A thoughtless void or meditative silence dictated by one aim. Or one would speak of a chemical cauldron brewing in our system with adrenaline and dopamine surging to get us high on our bodily drugs, as if in addiction.
A swim in Santorini towards Nea Kameni, the volcanic island at the center of the Santorini caldera made me learn of perchance a deeper reason for the human addiction to adventure. It would barely qualify as an adventure to the habitual daredevil, however I shall seek your pardon and rattle on about it in any case.
This little experience required me to jump off a catamaran into the emerald green waters of the Aegean. With no gear, no estimate of the icy grip of the water and no gauge of the plunging depths, there was indeed some fear and doubt. Warnings of the captain reiterating that only skilled swimmers should engage was a reasonable deterrent.
After a spar with inertia against my comfortably seated and dry self, in a flurry of unassessed movement, I made the jump. The height of the jump pulled me deep under. Surrounded by an icy green Goliath and the zenith now a pale sun seeming farther away than usual, the body sprung into action and propelled me to the surface. The cold wind and heady breeze clearing the mind. The choppy sea, with a resolve to sway all within it, was of little aid.
A long swim (long for an unfit slob like me) took me to the hot springs. The rusty ground was soft as clouds and the warm waters bubbled in volcanic happiness. Then came the long swim back. Knowing that there is no ground to rest on for several meters, the body exhausted, the mind fashioned it’s own fuel. At last, I clambered aboard. The warm wood of the deck welcoming my feet. The chilly air reminding me of my reckless stupidity.
Looking back, I realise, it wasn’t the adventure itself that made me feel alive but a feeling that we leave behind in our childhood. When we managed to ride a bicycle without trainers or climb up an impossible tree or simply chanced upon a scoop of ice cream. Our childhood stupidities were our adventures.
When life was not weighed down by thoughts of contingencies or experiences shaping our mindsets, we did things with no fear. There was a time when we allowed ourselves to be stupid. No care spared for judging eyes, no embargoes of inflated egos, living in all abandon, our minds open and our hearts free. Free of the world and free of self-imposed hang ups. We were not our own enemies back then. It was then that our experiences were true and our happiness real.
It was our perspective towards life; rather the lack thereof and our unencumbered minds that gave us happiness. Adventure was a best friend riding along with us as we cycled thought our childhoods. We didn’t have to book tickets and plan itineraries to seek adventure! It was our first buddy thriving right within us, allowing us to be thrilled by our friendly neighborhood experiences. Halt and look inside, it is still waiting for you to tear your eyes away from the obscuring anxiety. It is standing there with a gleeful smile ready to take your hand waiting to hear you say, “let’s do it!”.