Earlier today in a social media conversation I caught myself posting in a manner which is slightly disappointing. The discussion was regarding skydiving; a pursuit which terrifies and excites many people in equal measure. During my military service I jumped out of planes on a regular basis amassing a great number of jumps from a variety of altitudes including static line jumps from under 600 feet to high altitude jumps up to 13,000 feet.
Jumping was never my favourite activity, it was either a necessity or training. It was exciting but I preferred to get my adrenalin fix in other ways. The conversation however turned to the merits of a tandem jump with an instructor and my blasé response was to state that I would never choose to exit a plane as a pair.
My meaning was fortunately misunderstood, the other party believing it was a lack of trust in the jump master that was behind this reluctance to take a tandem jump. My arrogance and adventure snobbery had gone unnoticed.
However, not by me. I did not even need to analyse my responses, even before the conversation was finished my stance had become apparent. It was unfortunately not an entirely alien realisation.
My true love is the mountains; having climbed at altitude in the Himalaya, Alps and other Great Ranges and become qualified as a mountain guide during my time in the Army. Having also trained as an avalanche specialist, been proficient in ski mountaineering and several other mountain activites, I feel most at home on slopes, ridges or rock faces.
On a few trips in recent times our group has been afforded the services of a guide when travelling in the National Parks, wildnerness and mountainous areas of some destinations. I have too much respect for other guides to actually undermine them in anyway. However a degree of resentment at being led around on terrain in which I have spent most of my adult life is ashamedly a familiar emotion.
On a recent trip to France an opportunity to kayak was offered, yes I’m also a Senior Kayak instructor so noting the water was pretty flat, declined stating I would be bored within a few minutes.
These skills from my past have made me arrogant and an adventure activity snob. Here’s the thing though, it is nearly 10 years since I last participated in any of these activities to any standard. This means it is a number of years since I really pushed my limits, my fitness is far from acceptable and to be honest skills which were once second nature to me will now be rusty.
There isn’t any justification in these feelings of resentment. My arrogance is not valid and I should not dismiss any guidance, supervision or opportunity which is offered. I no longer have that right, this much has become clear to me after a little self reflection. The truth is this attitude is dangerous, reliance on long past glory and being ill prepared or equipped is the cause of many accidents, rescues and fatalities.
This has become especially relevant now that I am authoring this site, the tagline of which is “Making Everyday an Adventure“.
The aim; as a past adrenalin junkie to explain that adventure is relative and available to all. It does not need to involve high risk activities, in fact it does not need any risk at all.
Every individual is unique, we all have our own experiences and values which influence the way we think and react to situations. Every new experience should be considered a potential adventure, it is this attitude which will make it exciting and enjoyable. Destinations do not make adventures, activities do not make adventures, attitudes do.
Not everybody agrees of course, there are other adventure snobs out there, I spoke to one on the same social media platform yesterday. he made the following comment:
“Adventure is possible without participating in high risk activities but why would anybody want to?”
I countered that there are probably more that do not wish to participate in traditional ‘adventure’ activities, his response was simply to type “yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn”. Fair enough, each to their own, it is unlikely he will change his attitude in the near future and there was little point in trying to convince him otherwise.
It is my own attitude during the earlier conversation which is most surprising however I am able to enjoy more ‘mundane’ adventures, exploring a new destination or visiting an alien culture are equally exciting to me. This leads me to realise that not all hope is lost, I may be an adventure snob but there is still some hope left for me. I’m rehabilitating now.
This does not mean I have totally given up on adventurous pursuits, it will be a gradual withdrawal, rather than going ‘cold turkey’. There are still a few activities that need to be tried, BASE jumping would be amazing and stormchasing is a lifetime ambition. Just going into the mountains takes my breath away, parapenting, any snowsports and white water either rafting or kayaking will never cease to appeal.
I have merely adapted my own definition, it now reads:
“Adventure is cautious spontaneity”