Here at the Outdoor Book Club we know that every epic adventure starts with the basics: First, pack your best sword, making sure your horse is well-fed, brush up on your fire-breathing skills, and finally tell your over-protective family that a prince needs saving and you're the only one who can do it, so don't wait up.
Oh wait. Not that kind of epic adventure (though wouldn't hurt to imagine yourself in that scenario, because you are that hardcore, Lady Badass. There, that's your guided meditation for the day, go on now and create a whole amazing adventure for yourself in your head. I'll wait.)
Back? Good. So what's it going to take to inspire you to finally move out of your warm, comfortable existence and into something epic? For me, it always comes back to good writing. I suppose that's why I started this little adventure that I call the Outdoor Book Club. That somehow I can move you to let me take you on your own little adventure.
This morning as I was writing this post on how to plan an epic adventure, I decided I needed to steal a little genius from people who are way smarter than me. I have a Google doc where I keep of all my favorite quotes and poems, so I opened it up and started reading through my little curio cabinet of inspiration. And wow, it was filled with some of the most powerful reasons why epic adventures should be at the top of all our bucket lists. Some of the quotes are long, but I promise you, they're worth it. After reading them, you'll have no choice but to be put on the course of your own truly epic adventure.
Share the adventure with someone you love"Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?" - C. S. Lewis
Maybe this person is sitting across the living room from you right now, flipping through the channels (it's possible). Or maybe you met this person in the fourth grade, when you were both new to school and you didn't know anyone else and now you live a thousand miles apart and you just see each other's updates on Facebook. But even back then you shared an "inkling," and now is the time to reconnect and cash in on that. Or maybe you haven't even met them yet, and won't until you're both staring down the cliff of the same mountain. Whoever they are, rediscover that sidekick and head out on that adventure together.
Build the right vehicle
"I find myself wondering how many other memories are hidden from me in the recesses of my own brain; indeed my own brain will seem to be the last great terra incognita, and I will be filled with wonder at the prospect of someday discovering new worlds there. Imagine the lost continent of Atlantis and all the submerged islands of childhood right there waiting to be found. The inner space we have never adequately explored. The worlds within worlds within worlds. And the marvelous thing is that they are waiting for us. If we fail to discover them, it is only because we haven't yet built the right vehicle - spaceship or submarine or poem - which will take us to them... And the adventure is endless and inexhaustible. If I learn to build the right vehicle, then I can discover even more territories. And each new poem is a new vehicle, designed to delve a little deeper, or fly a little higher, than the one before." - Erica Jong
There is so much of both our inner and outer worlds that are just waiting - no dying - to be discovered and explored. Your couch isn't a spaceship, and your commute to the office isn't the path to new worlds. Find your terra incognita, and be filled with wonder, my friends. Build the right vehicle to get to that legendary awakening, whatever that means to you.
"It's called free will, Sherlock""The truth is you already know what it's like. You already know the difference between the size and speed of everything that flashes through you and the tiny inadequate bit of it all you can ever let anyone know. As though inside you is this enormous room full of what seems like everything in the whole universe at one time or another and yet the only parts that get out have to somehow squeeze out through one of those tiny keyholes you see under the knob in older doors. As if we are all trying to see each other through these tiny keyholes.
The truth is you've already heard this. That this is what it's like. That it's what makes room for the universes inside you, all the endless inbent fractals of connection and symphonies of different voices, the infinities you can never show another soul. And you think it makes you a fraud, the tiny fraction anyone else ever sees? Of course you're a fraud, of course what people see is never you. And of course you know this, and of course you try to manage what part they see if you know it's only a part. Who wouldn't? It's called free will, Sherlock. But at the same time it's why it feels so good to break down and cry in front of others, or to laugh, or speak in tongues, or chant in Bengali - it's not English anymore, it's not getting squeezed through any hole.
So cry all you want, I won't tell anybody." - David Foster Wallace
God I love David Foster Wallace. He's the closet thing I've got to a patron saint. (Have you seen This is Water?) Squeeze through that keyhole, baby. And do it while chanting in Bengali and crying your eyes out. It wouldn't be an epic adventure otherwise.
"Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure.""One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast, a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards." - Edward Abbey
I've spent much of my life as a reluctant enthusiast, a half-hearted fanatic. There's nothing inherently wrong with that. But then one day you'll discover, as Anais Nin did, "when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." My day came this past February when I just couldn't stand another day sitting in my office chair, staring at the insipid, stained fabric of my cubicle wall, doing work that barely mattered to anyone. So I quit. I took my heart out of the safe deposit box and decided that some risks were worth taking, even if I eventually failed. And now here I am, encouraging you to enjoy this one wild and precious life while you can, even if it's only for one weekend or even week a year. It won't wait forever.
Speaking of forever...
Decide to be part of something bigger"In the moment of transition between life and death only one thing changes: you lose the momentum of the biochemical cycles that keep the machinery running. In the moment before death you are still composed of the same thousand trillion, trillion atoms as in the moment after death. As you degrade, your atoms become incorporated into new constellations: the leaf of a staghorn fern, a speckled snail-shell, a kernel of maize, a beetle's mandible, a waxen bloodroot, a ptarmigan's tail feather. But it turns out your thousand trillion, trillion atoms were not an accidental collection, each was labeled as composing you, and continues to be so wherever it goes. So you're not gone, you're simply taking on different forms.
Instead of your gestures being the raising of an eyebrow or a blown kiss, now a gesture might consist of a rising gnat, a waving wheat stalk and the inhaling lung of a breaching beluga whale. Your manner of expressing joy might become a seaweed sheet playing on a lapping wave, a pendulous funnel dancing from a cumulo-nimbus, a flapping grunion birthing, a glossy river-pebble gliding around an eddy. From your present clumped point of view this afterlife may sound unnervingly distributed, but in fact it is wonderful. You can't imagine the pleasure of stretching your redefined body across vast territories, ruffling your grasses and bending your pine branch and flexing an egret's wing while pushing a crab towards the surface through coruscating shafts of light."- David Eagleman
Don't wait until your machinery stops running to express joy. Take the opportunity to preview what your atoms and molecules will be up to a hundred thousand years from now, and get your butt out into the great wide open.
Then, do it again"Whatever it was that got you to this school, don’t let it go. Whatever kept you here, don’t let that go." - Robert Krulwich
So you went out and found your epic adventure, and it was...epic. Mythical. Apocryphal, even. Changed the way you love life and experience the world, in a million different ways you never could have predicted. Hold that in your heart and use it for good, my dear heroine. You've got more than one epic adventure in you, and I for one can't wait to see how they turn out.
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Jill Hinton Wolfe