Adventure // Noun // Meaning // an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks. – Websters Dictionary
It’s true, Covid-19 is not an adventure in the traditional sense of the word. Covid-19 is not recreational. It is not something we can opt out of. However, there are a lot of parallels to current circumstances. What can adventure teach us about beating Covid-19?
Rock climber Yvon Chouinard – , has his own definition of the word. “Real adventure is defined best as a journey from which you may not come back alive, and certainly not as the same person.”
When I think of the definition of adventure, I might imagine an arctic explorer canoeing down an unexplored tributary, or a mountain climber attempting to make the first ascent on a glaciated summit.
Recently, my idea of adventure has shifted. The spike of adrenaline usually reserved for climbing or mountain running, I now experience when shopping for groceries at the local Safeway.
Reflecting back on my own more fond memories of adventure – less daunting in reality than my imagined definitions above – I can underline specific ideas that have always guided me along my journeys.
The first, matter of perspective. Theologian Desmond Tutu said “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time. Or as Mark Twain said – In a metaphor where no elephants were harmed – “One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time.”
When climbing a mountain, I will often give myself “mini goals”. First climbing to the boulder 100 meters ahead, then the spruce tree another 100 meters after that, then the ridge 100 meters beyond the spruce. Smaller goals keep you moving forwards. Fixating on the mountain top can sometimes be paralyzing.
Example Covid-19 Translation – Today my mountain is surviving lockdown. Instead of focusing on an unknown date where the lockdown might be lifted in the future though, I’m focusing on the present. Hyper focussed on the macro instead of the micro. How I make today the greatest possible day?
The second, overcoming adversity. Adversity is ever present – or at best recurring – during any adventure. Mountain climber Ed Viesturs wrote “The trick is to find a way of converting adversity into something positive, a challenge to look forward to.”
A detour adding miles to a lengthy trek doesn’t have to be discouraging. Many detours have facilitated brand new opportunities to enjoy the sight of a lush meadow full of wildflowers or wildlife sightings that I otherwise would have been certain to miss.
Example Covid-19 Translation – In search of new creative outlets I’ve reignited my passion for music and guitar playing. Intentionally diving into the outlets available to me instead of focusing on the creative outlets currently out of reach.
Thirdly, Stress management. Astronaut Chris Hadfield says the greatest coping mechanism for potential stressors is knowledge. “If you can pick out what exactly the danger is, you can focus on understanding that. It’s tremendously calming and reinforcing.”
Durning any adventure, safety is always the chief concern. Everyone involved assesses the hazards, and potential emergency scenarios – like which friend to sacrifice in a bear encounter. After investigating all possible hazards and scenarios, the team then implements safeguards to ensure that these scenarios never take place, and if they do anyways, everyone is prepared.
Example Covid-19 Translation – Being educated about the disease is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones. Once you’ve implement safeguards and devised plans. You can rest easy in knowing that you have massively improved the situation and it’s many possible outcomes.
Por cuartos, Resourcefulness not resources. During most adventures, you rely fully on everything you brought with you. Relying on your own ingenuity and resourcefulness might be the only way to adapt and progress.
You might not have the tools you wish you had for the circumstance you now find yourself in. Straps break, tires pop, weather changes, what now? When you don’t have the luxury of access or unlimited resources, you’re forced to find creative solutions.
Example Covid-19 Translation – If I want to leave this lockdown ready to tackle exciting new adventures, I need to stay fit. Being confined to a small apartment, I don’t have a lot of resources for pumping iron or working on my endurance. Yet, with only a few bands and two free weights, I’m managing to have some of the best workouts of my life.
Lastly, bringing it back to my favourite definition of adventure by Chouinard “Real adventure is defined best as a journey from which you may not come back alive, and certainly not as the same person.”
“Certainly not as the same person” – This adventure will change you. There’s no going back to how things were. What does that look like? I’m sure nobody knows yet. Be intentional about the person you wish to be on the other side of this.
There’s two ways to look at this detour in our trek. We can either look at it discouraged by the added miles, or optimistically at the opportunities to discover our own wildflower meadows we otherwise would have been certain to miss.