“It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that people find their supreme joys.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Psychologist and creativity coach Eric Maisel, PhD writes about one of the literary icons of adventure, and some of the value of new experiences: “Huckleberry Finn escapes his father’s clutches and heads down the Mississippi River in order to save himself.
“He rebels against the rules of his culture – that he go to school, that he attend church, that he obey his father – and, by lighting out, opts for adventure and exploration instead.”
Maisel adds, “Huckleberry Finn is a great yarn but it is also a metaphor for the creative journey, which requires that we escape the clutches of everyday thinking and culturally-determined behaving and explore life in a personal way, seeking out adventures of the mind and actual adventures.
“We need to explore bayous so as to paint them and to experience sunsets so as to write about them. Few of us do enough exploring.”
From his article: Living the Creative Life.
[Image from an edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.]
One notable explorer is entrepreneur Richard Branson. In his book Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons In Life, he writes about why being such an avid adventurer has been so meaningful to him.
“If you challenge yourself, you will grow,” he says. “Your life will change. Your outlook will be positive. It’s not always easy to reach your goals but that’s no reason to stop…
“For me, there are two types of challenge. One is to do the best I can at work. The other is to seek adventure. I try to do both.”
Branson quotes writer and mountain climber James Ullman: “Challenge is the core and mainspring of all human action. If there’s an ocean, we cross it. If there’s a disease, we cure it. If there’s a wrong, we right it. If there’s a record, we break it. And if there’s a mountain, we climb it.”
Branson adds, “I totally agree and believe we should all continue to challenge ourselves.”
Of course there are infinite varieties of adventure and challenge, for women as well as men.
Glenn Close has commented, “Acting, to me, is about the incredible adventure of examining the landscape of human heart and soul.”
Lara Croft of the “Tomb Raider” video-game series was described in an Associated Press story as “an archaeologist, photojournalist and British aristocrat, who travels the globe (wearing tight clothes, of course) seeking adventure.”
Starring as Croft in the film version, Angelina Jolie said she loved “being this character. She just likes to have fun, she’s open to everything. She’s not a reluctant hero, she’s not trapped in the danger. She’s having fun and she is a little crazy… She is just so alive with purpose… She inspires adventure in people and a certain kind of pride in yourself. I suppose what people see in her is that she’s a fighter.”
[From my article Warrior Women On Screen.]
Holly Morris wrote Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for Women Who Are Changing the World about women who create “positive change in their societies through passionate and often convention-defying actions,” according to a Publishers Weekly review.
“Among her subjects: the first female beat cop in India, who later reformed the prison system; an Iranian publisher of a feminist magazine fighting strict censorship laws; and a pop star who rocked New Zealand’s cultural divides.”
The author had her own adventures while writing the book, as she “takes on a side job hosting another travel show, eats with Malaysian headhunters, climbs Switzerland’s Matterhorn and rides through the Sahara Desert on camelback.”
But what is the personal growth value of adventure?
Aren Cohen writes in her article Searching versus Seeking about an acquaintance of hers who is “preparing to leave his job in investment banking to go to an ashram in India to practice meditation and yoga.
“It was clear that he was excited by the prospect of this new journey, but he was also apprehensive… unsure of giving it all up to embark on a more spiritual journey.
“Over the course of the conversation, we talked about the fact that his new endeavor would require bravery from him. Yet the other thing that was apparent to me was that my friend was now a ‘seeker’ … preparing to find a completely new side of himself.”
There are agencies and organizations such as Journeys of the Spirit that provide an experience of a sacred journey or spiritual retreat.
And there are creativity-oriented ones, such as retreats by Jennifer Louden.
[See more retreat ideas on the page Workshops / conferences / retreats.]
But even a boat trip on a placid river may be a threatening challenge for highly sensitive people. In addition to other sources of sensation and input, stimulating environments may be one or more other people, who can impact us on multiple emotional and energetic levels.
Elaine Aron, PhD notes that high sensitivity means “you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings” and also that you are “more easily overwhelmed when you have been out in a highly stimulating environment for too long.”
More in my post Being sensitive to others but staying safe.
Writer Joseph Jaworski talks about other challenges – and deep rewards – in his book Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership.
“Some who are called to adventure choose to go,” he says. “Others may wrestle for years with fearfulness and denial before they are able to transcend that fear. We tend to deny our destiny because of our insecurity, our dread of ostracism, our anxiety, and our lack of courage to risk what we have.
“Down deep we know that to cooperate with fate brings great personal power and responsibility. If we engage our destiny, we are yielding to the design of the universe, which is speaking through the design of our own person.
“In the face of refusal, we continue our restlessness, and then, as if from nowhere, comes the guide: something or someone to help us toward the threshold of adventure. This may take the form of voices within or people who guide us to see the way.”