Find Your Adventure

Some Trips are Colder than Others

This past Christmas, Santa gifted me a copy of Colin O’Brady’s The Impossible First. The book documents the author’s quest to become the first person to cross Antarctica alone and unsupported. Woven into the story is the journey it took to get there and the challenges he faced that fed his drive to do something that no human had ever done.

The book is a compelling read, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in gaining insights into what makes us tick as people. O’Brady’s stated aim in writing the book is not to inspire more attempts to trek across cold and inhospitable terrain, but to help people discover their personal ‘Mt. Everests’ and realize what is possible.

Though The Impossible First is not a ‘faith’ book, I couldn’t help but examine the story through the question of “who is God calling us to be?”. This is a question I regularly examine as it relates to me and my family. Many of us live life from one day to the next, without giving much thought to the direction we are heading. The well worn grooves of the day-to-day make it easy to feel busy and occupied without having to think about what else might be possible.

With a full life, it is easy for me to allow weeks to blow by without stopping to check my bearings; without considering whether the places I am giving most of myself are aligned to my vision or whether this vision is rooted in God’s plan for my life.

In truth, it is often easier to be busy in the daily grind. It requires less of us than thinking about the adventures we could be called into and the cost of becoming truly great.

Paradoxically Speaking

The Region Beta Paradox an idea that considers the behaviours of humans in the ‘not that bad’ spaces of life and our tendency to stay there, even when better options are available.

To illustrate, a couple of years ago I hurt my knee playing soccer. It swelled up and stayed swollen for a long time. After nearly a year, the annoyance of the swelling finally led me to a doctor, eventual diagnosis, and treatment resulting in the swelling going away. When my doctor asked me why I waited a year to come and see him, the only explanation I could think of was that the impact of the injury “wasn’t that bad”.

Had I torn a ligament or been in significant pain, I would have gone in immediately, but because the injury did not cause a lot of pain and it did not hamper most of my activities, I just lived with it. I did not seek something better than where I was mainly out of the cost in time it would take to get there.

In The Impossible First, O’Brady observes that many people are content to live life at 4 or 5 out of 10, meaning that we are content to settle for ok, rather than pursue what is great. I have often settled for 4’s and 5’s in parts of my life out of following the path of least resistance or effort. When we get into our routines and get busy, our lives often play out in the ‘not that bad’ region. Deep down, we know there must be more to life, but in this space we are not uncomfortable enough to make a change and comfortable enough that any significant change feels like too big a risk.

I think most people would jump at the opportunity to press a button and have their lives transformed from a 5 to a 9, but unfortunately, no such button exists and when we look at what a 9 out of 10 costs, we walk away.

The problem for most of us lies what we must risk to become great. In Colin’s story, he experiences moments he describes as 9’s and 10’s, but remains fully aware that it was because of the 1’s and 2’s in his life that he was able to get there.

Sometimes we need to be willing to sacrifice the good/ok to get to great and that can be a scary proposition. There are no guarantees. What if we put our ‘good’ on the line and end up with nothing?

What is a 9?

It is important at this point to define what I mean in terms of life ‘at a 9’. There is a temptation to attach too much or the wrong meaning. A couple of key points:

  1. The numbers are arbitrary – the question boiled down is simply: Are there areas of my life that could be better than they are now?
  2. The process is not linear or static. Life moves in seasons and we do not ‘achieve’ a certain level and stay there. Everyone knows that sometimes things are good and sometimes they are not, but seeking the path that leads to more life and not giving up is something we can consistently do.
  3. Living a more inspired life does not mean having to quit your job, sell everything, and become a lifeguard. We can live out those 9’s and 10’s in the small arenas of life, sometimes unseen by the people around us.

St. Irenaeus said that “the glory of God is man fully alive”. When I reflect on this, I try to look at my life from the inside out. Sometimes, the places in my life where I can be more fully alive are not the obvious external ones. The biggest opportunities can be found in what appear to be small places.

Some mornings, I drive my kids to school. The easy way for me to make that drive is to get lost in thought about all the things I need to do that day, and then say a quick goodbye before letting them out in the drop off lane. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone gets to school safe and then I race off to the rest of my day.

That trip takes all of five minutes, but the way I described it above feels a lot like a 4. Not terrible, but not memorable either. Just ok.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried something different. After pulling out of the driveway, I cranked up the music to one of their favourite songs and started belting out the lyrics as loud as I could. After a moment of “is Dad crazy?” they joined in and we pulled into the school parking lot in a fit of laughter. Who knows what the lasting impact on my kids will be of our short car ride, but it changed the trajectory of my day. I drove away smiling, filled with gratitude for them, their laughter, and that I didn’t ignore the prompt to engage.

Engage in Your Adventure

Jesus describes His mission in John’s gospel: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). God wants more for each of out lives. He can’t force us to live our lives as He intended though. We must participate and engage.

The fist step is to take stock of where you are and honestly identify the places in life where there could be more available. It might be in a relationship with your wife or husband. It might be in what you do for work. For me, there was a time when it applied to my faith life. I did all the external things I thought I was supposed to, but somewhere deep inside I knew there must be more. It was only when I started to seek the answer to that question that the ‘more’ became available.

Venturing into the unknown in the important places in our lives is scary – taking a step without knowing the outcome comes with risk. But the risk of not doing so is far greater. By not risking for the abundance God promises us, we will never know the joy that comes through the struggle or the wisdom found in the journey. We will be left unfinished.

We were not made to be left as we are today. As Pope Benedict XVI once said: “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness”.

What would it take to find greatness in your life? To seek out your Mt. Everests and risk becoming who you were made to be? What holds you back? What could life look like if you committed to becoming the greatest you that you could be?

We were made for more. Embrace your adventure.

– Sean

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2 Comments on “Find Your Adventure

  1. So glad you are back writing Sean!
    This is extraordinarily good especially for Lent.
    I appreciate the pause in my morning for reflection!

    Liked by 1 person

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