Approach Every Day with an Adventurous Spirit
Down through the ages, we humans have honored the adventurous, the explorers, the bold goers where none have gone before. Thinkers, writers, philosophers, and everyday people have left reminders for us, from ancient cave paintings to advertising slogans, to encourage our spirit and nudge us towards more full, vibrant, and joyful living.
Writing in 23 BC, the Roman poet Horace gave us his famous catch phrase, literally meaning, “Pluck the day.” As if each day is lovely singly made fruit ripe for the picking, juicy to eat. But, if we let it hang too long on the branch, while we run about adulting, meeting deadlines and committees, running errands, and racing on the treadmill of busy-ness, then the ripe fruit of our days will wither and fall.
Seize the opportunity. Take the bull by the horns. Cowboy up. Be brave. Be bold. Get ‘er done. Just do it. Two thousand years before Madison Avenue, and before Twitter, that old Roman knew the value of the sound bite.
“Adventures to the adventurous”
“The spirit of adventure is a generous spirit kindling to great appeals… The old phrase adventures to the adventurous is a true saying. The selfish and small of soul know no adventures,” wrote Hildegarde Hawthorne in the early 1900s in her essay, The Spirit of Adventure.
As Nathaniel Hawthorne’s granddaughter, she should know a thing or two about adventures. Dear old granddad was, after all, one of nineteenth-century America’s most influential and celebrated writers. He’s still widely read today as part of the classic canon, especially his books, The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables. Hawthorne ran around with the likes of Emerson and Thoreau – yep, the same one with handbuilt cabin at Walden Pond.
For those brave & bold with hearts to see
From the billowing full steam and coal smoke of the Industrial Revolution, down through these harrying decades of lightning-fast technological and digital progress, Hawthorne’s granddaughter is telling us that now, as ever, adventure is a mindset, a choice.
A choice that is not for the faint of heart nor the “selfish and small of soul.” I, for one, am happy to report that she, and other authors like her, issue no call to death-defying, adrenaline-pumping stunts of valor. No feats of grandeur. No high-diving into a bathtub of water. You don’t need for abs of steel or guts of iron.
Tall buildings need not be leaped. Mountains need not be moved. Unless that’s your thing, then more power to you. Those of us playing along at home – and livestreaming your glorious treks in our cubicles – send up a cheer!
Even in the hustle & bustle of modern life, we may “kindle to great appeals”
As contemporary writer Juliet Davey says, we can invoke the spirit of adventure and honor its essence even in the midst of our daily grind. She offers several suggestions, as we’ve discussed, like embracing the unfamiliar and standing in your own truth, even when it’s scary.
In fact, making space for adventure and wonder is especially important when we’re stuck in the workaday world. It’s this attitude of adventure, this generosity of spirit, that enlivens our days and enfolds our lives and our communities with meaning.
Einstein spoke of thought experiments. Let’s talk about mind adventures.
For example, have you ever bowed before a well prepared and generously offered meal and wondered about all the lands and hands and lives gathered in that food? In the chefs? In the eaters? What adventures we could all share! The stories, the travels, the ideas, the tastes of foreign fruits, the scent of cookfires from distant lands.
I think that’s some of what Ms. Hawthorne meant here, “You may develop the spirit of adventure without stirring from home, for it is not ruled by the body and its movements. Great and high adventure may be yours in the home where you now live, if you realize that home as a part of the great world, as a link of the vast chain of life.”
Part of the great world, on the very border of wonder
Helen Keller reminded us that, as a rule, we only ever enjoy the sense, and not the guarantee, of security. She told is, no uncertain terms, that life is a daring adventure or nothing.
Hildegarde Hawthorne, who lived and wrote at the same time, elaborates this very point, “The spirit of adventure loves the unknown. And in the unknown we shall find all the wonders that are waiting for us. Our whole life is lived on the very border of unknown things, but only the adventurous spirit reaches out to these… “
Helen Keller & Hildegarde Hawthorne meet in a speakeasy?
I can’t help but wonder if these two contemporaries were acquainted? Did they read each other’s work? Had they met? Were they BFFs? Did they take tea together? Or whatever it was that adventurous ladies did in those days.
Did they march for women’s suffrage together? Pamphlet and leaflet strangers in the street? Share a podium, even when their voices quaked?
Wouldn’t you just love to know? To be a fly on the wall of their adventures, if there were any. For me, a trip to the library and a few happy hours spent in the stacks, digging out that story – now, that would be an adventure.
Suzanne Hoenig - Based in the Texas Hill Country, Suzanne is learning the lay of the land and the life upon it. When she’s not hiking, gardening and learning to restore native habitats, she’s working with amazing clients to craft compelling content and grow healthy communities.