What Makes an Adventure?

Adventure Time in Melbourne, Australia, 2013


A lot of people get their adventures in life by watching other people on screens, reading about them in books, playing games in exquisitely detailed imagined worlds, or simply by daydreaming.

I have been wondering lately if people do this out of fear, or just absolute belief that they could not do such things on their own.

People take exotic vacations and tend to do packaged deals, all-inclusive, and why? Yeah, it’s nice and relaxing, but you could do that at home – why spend so much to go so far, and not really immerse yourself in the culture? Why take a prescribed route? That’s boring, it doesn’t challenge you, and you don’t grow. Fair enough if that’s what you want, but ask yourself are you afraid, or are you actually content with a mediocre life?

It actually does not take a lot to get out of your comfort zone, you can take small steps to get where you dream of going.

When I went to Thailand last year, I admit, I was extremely nervous, mostly due to other circumstances I was going through at the time that had me at a heightened state of anxiety. As soon as I got out of that situation, my anxiety vanished and I booked my trip. I actually planned VERY little, and listened to the people (who were MANY) who had gone before and insisted it was fine, and easy. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do, learned a few things to watch out for, and that’s it. No concrete plans, I just went, and I loved it. That’s how I like to do things – learn the crucial info and then wing it – then it’s a real adventure because you have no clue what to expect!

All the people who had not been to Thailand were concerned about me going. These people are not adventurous, or sit in front of video game worlds for hours upon hours each day, or assume that bad things happen only in other places, and never our own. Everyone who had been said the exact opposite and were wildly positive about their experiences. I will never let fear stop me – only intuition.

So what makes an adventure? Getting yourself out in the actual, physical world. Doing things you’ve never done. Doing things you think you cannot do. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Exploring everything. Examining your surroundings wherever you are. Getting into NATURE. Moving your body! Dreaming big and going for it. Knowing that ordinary people are the ones accomplishing extraordinary things, they just believe they can and do the work, and so can you.

Don’t waste your life in a fantasy world – create a real one. The fantasy begins after we die – because no one knows what happens – but you can choose what happens to you now, so make it count.


Recommended Reading:

How to Be an Explorer of the World
Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously
Four Corners
And many others

Photos of My Favourite Adventures

I’ve had a pretty full life so far and it is continuously getting more and more adventurous as I get older and more confident.

Even when I have been self-doubting and fearful, I have pressed forward, traveled alone, moved to new places, and taken daily opportunities for adventures. I’ve always had this need to explore and experience – to LIVE and not just exist. Something as simple as dancing naked in the rain on New Years Eve (done it), or hiking in the dark, or attempting something new – these are prescriptions for a non- typical existence.

Here are just a sampling of exciting times in my life!

Tofino BC, 2001 – this is the first time I ever went surfing, though I’d wanted to since I was 12 (so it took me 10 years to do so).

Raglan, New Zealand, 2005 – that is not me surfing, but it was somewhere I wanted to visit ever since seeing it in Endless Summer.

North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, 2010 – Pipeline – a dream to see this crazy place in person. It sounded like thunder!

Port Moody, BC, 2008 – there was a sign saying there was a cougar spotted in the area, so I pretended to be the cougar.

Coral Bay, Western Australia, 2005 – this is where I went on a swim with whale sharks – still the coolest thing I’ve ever done.

Phuket, Thailand, 2013 – me and one of many beach dogs. Such a fantastic island. Solo trip.

Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2013 – part of my month-long solo trip last year.

Paris, France, 2011 – family trip with my Dad, Uncle, and his wife.

Gabriola Island, BC, 2007 – my dog Leya, and my friend Amy, on a jaunt through the woods.

Squamish, BC, 2008 – on the Chief mountain, with Leya – the first time I’d ever hiked up a mountain. My dog slept for 2 days after and I had a hard time walking for a week.

Lollapalooza, Vancouver, BC, 1993 – this was probably my pinnacle year. It defined who I’d become.

Whistler, BC, 1993 – I’d go here in summer with my mom. Went white-water rafting. Mostly checked out skater boys.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1992 – the first time I ever caught a wave was here, on a boogie board. Hooked. Warmest water I’ve ever been in.

Mission, BC, 1990 –  me and my dad at a swimming hole – I was 12.

What are some of your favourite adventures?? Please share with me!

Top 20 Books About Adventurous Lives

Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I am a book fiend, and my favourite type of books, fiction or non, are ADVENTURE stories. Books about epic journeys, weird upbringings, living in nature, or simply unconventional lifestyles.

Books are my biggest love, and adventure stories are an amazing way to get inspired and see yourself in others. Not everyone who lives a crazy life starts out as an athlete, a confident person, or naturally adventurous. The most inspiring people to me are the ones who do something amazing or scary, even if they have trepidations or doubts – they push forward because they feel called to do something with their lives. You can, as well. Read on and get inspired!

Vali Myers: A Memoir– Gianni Menichetti

This woman is my biggest inspiration. An artist I have written about before, she lived a wild and crazy life. Originally from Australia, she saved her money and moved to Paris, lived on the streets, became an opium addict and moved to Italy to get off drugs, living as a recluse for 40 years with a menagerie of animals and her young lover, while traveling to NYC to sell her art, eventually settling back in Australia before her death. Her home, lover, and animals are still in Italy, and he is the author of this awesome biography. Highly recommended.

Four Corners– Kira Salak

This woman is a total badass. She became the first woman to traverse Papua New Guinea solo, by boat and foot, a wild land that is one of the last untouched places on earth. She also has an awesome article she wrote for National Geographic about her ayahuasca experience and it’s effect on her depression. Everything I read by her screams of bravery and passion for existence.

Tracks – Robyn Davidson

One of my VERY favourite books, and also now a beautiful movie! In the 70s this young lady decided she wanted to cross the Australian desert with her dog and camels, which she trains herself over a period of 2 years. Beautifully told and inspiring, HIGHLY recommended!

On Foot Through Africa– Ffyona Campbell

Ffyona was the first woman to walk around the world. Though her journey had controversy due to skipping one part during a pregnancy, she went back to complete it later on. Of her 3 books, this one was my favourite. She spent 2 years walking from the south to north of Africa.

Rowing the Atlantic – Roz Savage

Roz is a powerhouse, and like Robyn Davidson, knew that a seemingly “ordinary” person can do extraordinary things. Roz became an ocean rower simply because she wrote out her perceived obituary and compared it to one she would have preferred. This led to her being the first and only woman to row across all 3 oceans. Totally epic.

Beyond the Horizon – Colin Angus

Colin, who lives in the same city as me, departed on a 2 year trip to circumnavigate the globe by human power alone. By bike, foot, and rowboat, he began in Canada, rowed to Russia, biked across Siberia and Europe, separating from his travel partner and then completing the journey with his fiance, rowing across the Atlantic through two hurricanes and a squall, then biking from Costa Rica back to Canada. AMAZING!

Kite Strings of the Southern Cross – Laurie Gough (Also known as Island of the Human Heart).

An incredibly beautiful travelogue of a woman in Fiji, plus chapters of her other travels. One of the best travel books I’ve ever read, along with her other, which I loved just as much, Kiss the Sunset Pig, in which she is searching for a cave she once lived in on the coast of California, recounting many other travels along the way.

Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal– Karen Connelly (Also known as Dream of a Thousand L ives).

I read this book after going to Thailand, and found myself yearning to go back immediately. Karen’s teenage year living with a family in rural Thailand is exquisitely written, and I implore you to read it and everything else by her. She is a stunning writer.

Flaming Iguanas – Erika Lopez

An illustrated road novel about a girl named Tomato on her motorcycle. Can it get any better? I dunno. In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to read it again.

In Search of Captain Zero – Allan C. Weisbecker

Sell your house, grab your dog, load up your surfboards in your camper and take off in search of your lost friend. This memoir of a man in his late 40s is epic and true, and a testament that leaving it all behind to go after a pure and exciting adventure is what life is all about. Also recommended is the film Surfwise.

Atlas of the Human Heart – Ariel Gore

One of my favourite writers! This accounts her teenage travels to Asia and Europe, after dropping out of high school. Poetic, beautiful, and will make you wonder if you’ve really been living.

Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life – Ulli Lust

Probably one of the best books I’ve read this year, AND a graphic novel to boot. A massive tome detailing more teenage adventures of two crazy punk girls in the 80s, traveling and hitching through Italy, and all the horrific and wonderful things that happen. As soon as I read the description of this book I felt like it was meant for me. One of my very favourite comic memoirs.

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

This extremely popular memoir of a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail is gorgeous and tempting. Even though long hiking journeys I read about seem grueling, they are always so full of beauty that they tempt me out of the indoors and into the forest, where we really do belong. So many of the books I love begin with horrible circumstances, broken hearts, turmoil and sorrow, only to be satiated by wilderness. Strayed is a gorgeous writer.

A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson

This book made me laugh my ass off. Two men on the Appalachian trail – Bryson really knows how to craft a travel tale, and make it funny as well. Another book that got me interested in hiking.

That Oceanic Feeling – Fiona Capp

One of the books that inspired me deeply, this is a memoir of a lady who sets out to surf a tough surf break in her later 30s. She lived quite a drive away, and hadn’t surfed in many, many years, but was committed to her goal. A great reminder that it is not too late to start pursuing your passions.

Child of the Jungle – Sabine Kuegler (also known as Jungle Child).

OH, this book is just soul food for me. Reading about a childhood growing up in the jungles of New Guinea, how beautiful! Makes me swoon just thinking about it. It was also made into a movie which I also love and suggest you check out.

Into the Wild– Jon Krakauer

Probably one of the best known books on living in the wilderness, and with an unfortunate end, it is still a very inspiring and fascinating story. I love the movie even more.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals –  J. Maarten Troost

This book was unbelievably funny. The writer and his wife went for two years to the tiny island country of Kiribati (heard of it? Likely not, but you won’t forget it after reading this). Seemingly paradise, the bad side soon reveals itself in glorious hilarity. Troost is a fantastic comedic writer, but he also makes you want to visit this beautiful place, despite it’s weird quirks. My favourite funny adventure travel book.

Chasing Waves – Amy  Waeschle

A beautiful account of a female surfer’s first experience and how it leads to obsessive travel and pursuit of wave-riding. Very helpful in alleviating my major wanderlust and surf-lust, though it also made me yearn to get moving and get wet.

In addition to all of these books, I highly recommend reading the travel blogs of Katwise, which I devoured! Completely amazing stuff.

Please tell me all of your recommendations, especially if they are not very well known! I am always looking for more adventures to read!!

The Weirdness of Being Human

Sometimes, I find myself in weird situations.

Like anyone, I guess. But I want to put myself there.

Once in a while, you are just unsure, you know? You sort of want to do something, but aren’t sure you should, or maybe you feel like it’s wrong, or it seems uncouth or deviant or dangerous. Like, “How the hell did I get myself into this?”

When I get in these situations, now, I think to myself, “What is the point of being human, if not to experience things AS a human?”

We are pretty lucky. I mean, as a whole, the human species can be pretty fucking vile. We destroy everything. We cause so much suffering. We are also capable of so much tenderness, beauty, compassion.

When things seem black, I will sometimes feel shame at being human. But it is what I am, and it is what you are.

It baffles me so hard when people are reluctant to try new things. We need to push our comfort zones, always. Other creatures don’t get to do this! We have a privilege. Life is more than a butt on a couch or vanilla sex.

So next time you are in a strange situation, let it happen, and just think to yourself, “Being human is fucking weird, man.” And just go with it. Laugh at it. Sink into the moment. It can be anything from dealing with someone screaming at you in traffic, or gnawing on your nipple.

I mean, do you wanna die tomorrow not having known what it’s like to be in the jungle or screw in the rain? Do you want to see the vistas and valleys from the top of the mountains, or just watch it on tv while you scarf down soda and chips? Do you want a comfortable life, or an exciting adventure?

It’s fine if you want comfort, but when you’re feeble and dying, what will be the thing you look back on with glee and fondness? All your nights with your Xbox, or the time you followed your strange desires? The constant stream of facebook, or the times you pushed your boundaries?

If you do that more often, your life will seem so much richer, so that when you do just chill and rest, it will feel decadent instead of “wasting time.” It will be a decision and not stagnancy.

Go out and live. Do something wild. Be someone you’d be jealous of.