Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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A friend of mine was telling me about a great-great uncle by the name of Ed who in 1887, as an 18-year-old, sailed to Canada with no job and little money. At the time it was a young and still quite wild country and he had many adventures, using his initiative and nerve to get by from day to day, to earn money and (mostly) keep our of trouble while he moved around the country.
The world has got much smaller in the 130 years since Ed went walkabout in Canada and I wonder whether, in the 21st century, there are still such adventures to be had. I suppose there are still a few remote corners of the earth, but almost everywhere now we can maintain contact with friends and relatives, we can get help if we need it.
So are there no adventures to be had these days? Another friend of mine lusts for new experiences and finds them through holidays which she takes with random groups of people, always to somewhere different and often to somewhere intrepid; the foothills of Everest; the Arctic; the upper reaches of the Amazon. These are guided holidays and not adventures of the sort Ed experienced – there is little personal danger involved – but nevertheless they are adventures. They take her to new places, she meets new people, unexpected things happen, she has new experiences.
Both Ed and my friend associate adventures with travel, but that doesn’t have to be the case. I suppose the word “adventure” comes from the same roots as “advent” – so it is about an arrival, a new beginning.
And I think that’s right. Learning something new can be a new adventure, and straight away I think of people who’ve experienced an adventure in learning to sing, or paint, or play the ukulele. And people who train for a marathon, or start up their own business are also breaking new ground, having an adventure. And indeed, there’s the adventure of becoming a new parent. I still remember the moment when, now nearly 30 years ago, my wife and I brought our first child home. We sat in the living room with him and looked at each other, and at him and my wife said “OK, so what on earth do we do now?” It was a step into the unknown, a big adventure for all three of us.
In my work, I meet many people who are embarking on an adventure. In coming to counselling, they are looking for a new beginning. Perhaps they’re looking for a new way of interacting with the world and the people in it. Perhaps they’re looking for a deeper understanding of themselves. They are taking a step into new territory, exploring places they’ve never explored before, but those places happen to be inside themselves, not in an unexplored corner of the earth.
And I think that’s what makes something into an adventure. It’s not necessary to go to Canada like my friend’s great-great Uncle Ed, or to hike with a bunch of strangers and some huskies across the Arctic. Such things can help to create an adventure, of course, but the adventure is really taking place inside ourselves. The element of risk, the need for improvisation, the experience of new or of heightened emotions – these are typically the things that give us a sense of adventure, and we can find them in many different ways. If you want to have an adventure, it’s there waiting for you.