You could say Steve and I have been on some adventures. Wars. Writing. Twins. Overseas moves. Three babies in three years (one of whom was born in the Middle East). Living with my mother (that definitely qualifies). And, very recently, we learned that we’ll be headed back to San Diego in the New Year — the next adventure awaits!
Sometimes life feels mundane, and we long for an adventure. Sometimes we’re on an adventure, and we long to get off the ride.
I’ve been reflecting on the confluence of my humanity and life’s adventures, and I thought I’d share with you 5 things the adventures are teaching me:
1. Adventure often comes to us through the side door. In other words, I’m often waiting for life to happen in a certain way, things to unfold according to a certain set of plans, and some of the very best stuff that has ever happened came through the side door when I only had eyes for the big front door that I was just SURE was the only way forward. The side door is unpredictable and uncontrollable. And yet, the kind of stuff that comes through the side door (stuff we can’t manufacture, manipulate, control) is usually the very best stuff.
2. Adventure is rarely ever comfortable. This is what I wish they would’ve taught us in college. We longed for these breathless, breakneck lives— movie-worthy—and then we realized that much of life is not nearly as romantic as we had hoped it would be. In fact, even the adventures have a major facet of discomfort. For example, it’s amazing to be living in the Middle East. A real, certifiable adventure. And, as I write, there is a loud banging behind my head as the construction crew next door completes their 6th month of demolition on a house that—for the life of me—I swear was as completely demolished as a house could be. Power tools at 6:30 this morning. Dumpsters parked directly in front of our garage so we can’t back our car out. Welcome to the adventure.
3. Adventure can drive you apart or bring you together. Steve and I make it a point to try to be on each other’s team. Sometimes, in the midst of an adventure, you have to be reminded of this fact. For example, when you’re on your 24th hour of travel with three children, three and under, you have to remember that your spouse is actually your teammate and not your worst nightmare. For example.
4. Adventure helps us tell a better story. It’s incredible to tell a better story, and it’s also terrifying. My dad went to high school with a guy who’s dad was the town butcher. At their 25 year high school reunion, my dad asked the guy what he’d been doing all these years. “Cuttin’ meat,” my dad’s friend replied. This was told as a cautionary tale when we were growing up. My dad said that if we ever spent our lives “cuttin’ meat,” he was going to personally whoop us. An ironic update to this story is that the “cuttin’ meat” guy is now a millionaire because he got into some kind of mayhaw jelly business, but the point of the story was to go in search of some life treasure. Go on a voyage, a journey. Seek adventure. BUT, cuttin’ meat is a lot more comfortable. Uprooting, risking, stepping out . . . all very vulnerable and often costly. It’s terrifying what we might have to give up to really live an adventure. If we think it’s going to be all power ballads and great hair, we’re crazy.
5. Adventure can expose your deepest thoughts about yourself. Ugghhhh, how utterly inconvenient. You might find out that you’re not as brave as you thought you were. Or, perhaps, just the opposite, that you’re much braver than you ever imagined. Or, most likely, that you’re both brave and not brave. And it’s ok. You’re still standing. You might come to realize that you are incredibly hard on yourself. Far harder than necessary. You might come to realize that you always give yourself an out or an excuse and don’t take responsibility for your life and that’s got to change. You might find out that you have no idea how to really be with yourself. You have no idea how you really feel, what you really want. And, you might also find out what has been the greatest desire of your soul all along. What has always been down there and needed some breathing room to bloom.
Lastly, if you find yourself in the middle of an “adventure” that feels more like a catastrophe or mudslide or gigantic meteor headed for earth, just remember, things won’t always feel the way they do right now. And in the meantime, breathe. Also, take a nap if possible. Or, my personal favorite, get a pedicure.
Believing in you,