“Most people are on the world, not in it.”
Wise words indeed by John Muir the Poet Laureate of the High Sierra, who wrote ecstatically about the mountains. John Muir’s ability to jolt me out of my comfortable existence with a few mere words impresses me deeply. He encourages me to pause, reflect and really contemplate the space that I occupy in this world. A true testament to his profound wisdom. Although I was not currently located near any mountains. Far from it. Yet his words left a questioning imprint on my soul. Currently, I am working and living in the dusty, remote outback town of Coober Pedy. Perhaps best known for being the Opal Capital of the world and that most of the town’s 5,000 inhabitants live underground. I am in the midst of this great Outback adventure, yet I am guilty at times of being ‘on the world’ and ‘not in it.’
For me it is inevitable whenever I undertake any job or remain in one location for an extended period of time. The initial novelty wears thin after a few months. I gradually succumb to the slow rhythm of a familiar routine. Routine itself is fascinating — a sequence of actions regularly followed. This suggests actions which are quite mindless, ones which I am not emotionally engaged in. Yet, in its absence, I can crave it deeply. Repeating the same routine for too long can transport me into a Groundhog Day scenario. One I want to desperately clamber out of. When each day begins to look and feel the same, I don’t feel truly alive. A change is needed.
I was acutely aware that my routine had begun to steer my existence towards the mundane. Somewhere I really did not want to be. Therefore it was time to take action! My mind brought to the forefront an article I read by the talented illustrator and writer Alex Mathers titled Why ‘Idea Adventures’ Have Become the Most Important Part of My Day
In this article he speaks at length about a trip he took to Iceland and how
‘the beauty and uniqueness of the country revived my spirit and infused new color into my greying senses. Physically moving through unfamiliar landscapes gave me the opportunity to think about and feel the world differently, almost as a different person.’
‘As someone who relies on fresh, creative ideas, feeling alive, and being inspired, this kind of experience holds a tremendous amount of value for my work and my sanity.
I decided to bring adventure into my daily life instead of a once in a year short burst.
On every day that I can, I will go on a walk, sometimes a long one, and I will bring my notepad and my phone to take pictures and videos. I will use this adventure to collect and note ideas or simply document things I see as I go.’
How can I create my own mini adventure?
Reflecting on this article I thought about how I could create my own adventure to embark on in Coober Pedy. In the desert, the sunrises are quite spectacular and I had not been taking the time to truly savour this daily occurrence or document their beauty. The idea for my first mini adventurewas born.
A tree growing in Coober Pedy! (photo credit Sarah Healy)
Step 01: Make a plan
The next morning I decided to get up before sunrise and run to a nearby tourist attraction called The Winch, aptly named because you guessed it it is indeed a big winch! It is located up on a hill which offers a scenic view of the town and is the perfect place to drink in the details of a desert sunrise. I really enjoy running and exploring places on foot is my favorite way to explore. I love moving through unfamiliar landscapes and find it exhilarating to discover new places that are not possible to get to except by foot. Running also gives me time to think and reflect and can be quite meditative, especially in the solitude of the early morning.
Ok……it is a tree made of metal, but still a tree! (photo credit Sarah Healy)
Step 02: Follow through on the plan
Early the next morning as the desert sun began to sweep across the desolate landscape I embarked on my first mini adventure. I find it startling how quickly the darkness gives way to light, almost like turning on a light switch. I began to navigate down unfamiliar dirt roads. The sharpness of the early morning air jolted me awake and I felt alive. As I pounded the red dirt, I set off an Orchestra of barking dogs that almost reached hysteria. I could feel excitement tingle in my belly. And silently hoped that the dogs were of a friendly nature.
The morning desert light creates the most wonderful hues (photo credit Sarah Healy)
The Winch at sunrise is simply beautiful. I relish the solitude of the early morning at this tourist spot. The desert light is breathtaking and creates the most wonderful hues. Sometimes living here the simple beauty strikes you in your very core. I feel I am witnessing a beauty that is not quite of this earth. Something that perhaps belongs on a distant planet. Overlooking the truly unique town of Coober Pedy at sunrise was a tranquil moment. I greedily drank in all the delicious details. What a bizarre place. How lucky am I that I get to experience living here.
The aptly named Big Winch is indeed a Big Winch!
What did I learn from my mini adventure?
A quick look at my watch indicated that it was time to get back to the real world and get ready for work. Albeit brief, I am content that I carved out some time to go on this mini adventure and appreciate Coober Pedy at sunrise. I made a pact with myself that I will make more time for the fantastic sunrises and sunsets while living here. There is never a good time to do anything. There is never enough time. Yet it is possible to grab what little time I have here and there, sit back and appreciate the beauty of the natural world which surrounds me.
Adventure does not need to be limited to far away lands. I can create my very own adventure where ever I am in the world. So can you. Do not be afraid to explore. Go somewhere you have never been before. Don’t be afraid to get lost. Strike up conversation with someone you do not know.
In her TEDx talk ‘The key to living a life of adventure’ Ginger Kern creator of the online platform Traveler’s Mindset encourages us to
‘Adopt a travelers mindset’
whether at home or traveling abroad. How can I adopt this mindset? Ginger suggests by asking the following three simple questions:
- How can I be more courageous?
- Where are my boundaries
- How can I be more open?
In asking myself these questions, I can unlock and endorse a culture of openness, curiosity, and adventure.
This leads me to what I think is the most important element when it comes to creating an adventurous life — curiosity. Children possess endless curiosity. They move with a remarkable sense of purpose, radiate joy and go on the most amazing adventures both real and imaginary. I do find the older I get the more difficult it is to maintain this deep level curiosity in the world around me.
Curiosity is the stepping stone to a great adventure. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to get lost. Go wandering. Go exploring. Take a different route to work. Go running somewhere new. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to be open. Talk to people.
It can be far too easy to sink into a routine and swaddle ourselves in the safe cocoon of our comfort zone. Yet the results can be detrimental. I will close a few apt and wise words from the author Paulo Coehlo
‘If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal’
Go forth. Be curious. It will make you a happier human.