“Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles in life.”
What is the meaning of life? This is among the oldest of questions. And, I’ll tell you, I don’t know the answer.
Some people say that a rush of adrenaline cues them into life’s deeper meaning. They are adrenaline junkies. I am not. In fact, I believe that I was born with insufficient adrenaline receptors…meaning I require a bigger adrenaline rush than most people to feel normal. This has led to my participation in all kinds of skill-based action sports and adventures. From backcountry skiing to rock climbing, mountaineering to whitewater kayaking, these activities have often been a gateway to intense experiences, both physically and interpersonally. While the physical challenges are exciting, it is the interpersonal experiences I remember most.
For example, one day while rock climbing, I took a rather nasty fall. I fell about 60 feet through the air and swung into a wall of granite. I was hanging there from my harness, dangling in mid-air, face-to-face with my buddy and belayer, the man who had just saved my life, and he said, “Holy shit man! You ok?” I rotated slowly at the end of my rope. As I turned again to face him I said, “Dude! It was just starting to get good!”
I remember as if it were yesterday: his expression of deep concern and compassion, turning, in an instant, into bold and raucous laughter.
“Well quit fucking around then!” he exclaimed.
When I tell this story to women, they are mostly horrified. I usually receive a response like, “Why would your friend say something so insensitive?!”
Guys? They just smile. They know what he was really saying: “
I have lived most of my life thinking that “it” (life) was about the next big physical experience. The next rush of adrenaline. I’ve spent so much time anticipating the next wall or mountain or river. The next big trip.
The next trip, as it turns out, is always just a vehicle to deliver me another seriously life-changing interpersonal experience. I’ve discovered that these are the kind of experiences that create memories that last a lifetime, and that is what it is all about.
When I realized the sacred privilege of sharing this kind of experience with another human, I realized what a gift it is to be part of a loving tribe. For me, it is no longer about the next trip. It’s about having a tribe to love. Slowly, I am finding ways to engage in serious life-changing experiences without needing to fall 60 feet through the air. Without that adrenaline rush I’ve so often required in the past. Now, I’m seeking this deeper meaning and connection by gazing deeply into the eyes of my tribe and seeking to understand their souls.
Perhaps, just perhaps, this is the meaning of life. At least for me. At least for now…
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