There’s a recurring term I see scrolling through social media and swiping through dating profiles: “I love going on adventures!” or “check me out at _!” Usually there are photos of the person standing in front of landmarks like Horseshoe Bend or one of a handful of scenic Icelandic waterfalls.
I don’t want to be a curmudgeon, in fact I would like to visit both Iceland and Horseshoe Bend in the near future. I also don’t want to dwell too much on strict definitions. When people refer to adventure, I think they mean that they like to get out of the house and do things, which is a good and attractive quality. I merely lament the ease and uniformity of this type of adventure.
Let’s take the example of a road trip as adventure. With modern vehicle reliability, cell phones, online review sites, and social media recommendations, there’s little that can go wrong even if one puts little or no effort into planning. You just need to drive, stop at places with good reviews, and upload some photos to Instagram and Facebook. Since these places are already popular, social media will boost your post’s rankings, and all your friends will know how cool you are. This reinforces the same sites, and more people will go there.
Things are so simple and easy these days that the most adventurous experience while traveling is surviving the analysis paralysis and hangriness that comes when three friends simultaneously “YELP” for a brunch spot popular with “the locals.” I have another rant about “the locals” I’ll save for another day.
I am sure there are plenty of real adventurers out there, and they aren’t even all bad-A free climbers. There are also always pleasant and unpleasant surprises in life. If anything I want us to realize that there’s more to life than the way we currently adventure. To find adventure and excitement, we might just need to look a little harder and for new (or even return to old) kinds of adventure.
I want to climb a hill just because it’s beautiful. It doesn’t need to make any listicle or score well on Facebook’s learning algorithms. The cover photo of this article is of some beautiful rocks near the base of one such hill I hiked up yesterday with a friend. I’m not saying they’re unknown or ultra remote and I’m sure they’ve been climbed many times. But there’s no listing or photos of them on Google Maps.
Neither am I trying to brag because I’ve visited something more obscure than you (just a minor humble brag). The Grand Canyon and Yosemite are well visited, and they should be. Yet my outing was something simple I could do without going far from home.
In the next months I want to find remarkable and exciting experiences closer to home. I want to get better at connecting with my town folks and church members. I’m sure there will be plenty of exciting and remarkable experiences in the process.