The Blog

Adventure

Adventure pic (600x450)

Suspense. Fear. The unknown. In a story, we love these things. Watching the hero find his way, and struggle to overcome or survive is cathartic . . . our nerve endings are electrified; we live vicariously through the hero sometimes inspired, sometimes just entertained, and in some cases we want to relive his/her story again and again.

Since the beginning of the world, man has been telling stories: The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Iliad and The Odyssey, The Ramayana, Shakespeare, King Arthur, Harry Potter, and one of my personal favorites, Lord of the Rings. Those characters, to us have become living, breathing entities. Perhaps in some way we want to be them or be like them; we want to go on our own odyssey, our own adventure and feel our blood pumping through our veins, fully alive and legend. We want to be brave against all odds.

Some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories are of going camping in the mountains in Colorado. As I rode in the truck to our favorite camping spot, my eyes would drink in the scenery of mountain peaks, and aspen groves whizzing past my window. My mind’s eye would wander through the forested valleys and up to the very top of the peaks imagining what lay beyond the sight of my physical eyes. Something inside of me wanted to break free of the car and of my human shell and wander the wilderness, exploring until I reached the end, whatever that was. I would pack my own mini child-size fanny pack with binoculars, a whistle, and a small knife and beg to go exploring and hate when our family hikes “exploring” came to an end. I never wanted to stop. I wanted to know what was just a little farther, through those trees and up that hill. I wanted to climb on all the rocks, balance on all the fallen trees, and peer inside cliff-side caves. I hated being limited, when what seemed like an infinite heart-aching awe-inspiring mystery awaited.

This child-like wanderlust forever lives in my bones and my heart aches to satisfy it. The mountains and nature still and probably will till my days end be a sanctuary that binds up my wounds and yet leaves me feeling benevolently haunted.

The mountains also frightened me.  

Late at night while sitting around the campfire, licking roasted sticky marshmallow from my fingers, my grandpa, dad, and uncle would recount funny hunting stories, camping incidents, and as the night wore on and the camp fire burned down to the glowing coals, they would tell stories about the unbending will of nature: bear maulings, lost souls who never came home, ghost stories and mountain town legends. I would sit on the edge of my seat, gripping the smooth edges of my whittled walking stick, terrified and fascinated.

And when it came time to go to bed, and I turned away from the fire to look the dark blackened forest in the eye, I was afraid, and I was afraid of everything. I would grip my flashlight and power walk to the camper or ask to be escorted to the camper door. One of my most vivid nightmares that I still remember was of my getting lost in the vastness of the wilderness, the cold bone-chilling wind screaming past me, and lastly, my parents and family walking on a green manicured lawn to attend my funeral.

The thing that I wanted to “get lost in,” was also the very thing I was afraid of getting lost in.

And like the forest, I am both enthralled with the beauty of life’s adventure and frightened by it. I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to live small and safely, but my desire to know that everything is going to work out will not, on a detail by detail basis, ever be met. And this, leaves room for worry and fear, if I let them, to rule in my heart and mind, and take control. And so the joy of the adventure, the thrill of the unknown path ahead is stolen.

Recently, a dynamic shift has taken place in my life. Like an old book being shut, I feel as though I can hear the cover of the last chapter of my life being closed and the new one being opened, a new era beginning. And as I look out into the distance of what feels like a metaphorical forest, I am again both excited because I feel that new things are coming my way, and scared because I don’t know what’s next.

My free spirit can’t handle itself, excited for the unknown and what it brings, and my fear is scared, and demanding a roadmap. My spirit for adventure has its head out the window elated, the wind blowing through its air, and fear is wrapped up in blanket in the backseat glaring at my free spirit’s recklessness. Liz Gilbert in Big Magic talks about living a creative life and how fear will always be an ever-present person on the journey. She says to talk to your fear and metaphorically invite fear to come along with you and your free spirit on your journey, but to tell fear that it is not getting to drive.

Fear is a wise advisor, but it can never be king of your castle, or captain of your ship.

I’m afraid of many things and worry sometimes lives in my body, but when I break free and muster up my courage, I want to press on no matter what lies ahead in the metaphorical forest stretching out ahead of me . . . because what a beautiful thing to be the hero of one’s one life, to be fully alive; to know that you’re not going through the motions, because you’re scared to death.

May you be scared to death.

Exhilarated by the free fall.

Enchanted by life’s mysteries.

And may you be brave.

Copyright 2016 Kristen N. Rea

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Endings: the Color of Memory

A couple days ago, I saw someone walking their beagle dog and was reminded of my childhood dog Penny. She was my best friend and even though she was disobedient and ornery, she had a big heart and I knew she loved and my family and me. She died while I was away on a trip. I didn’t get to say goodbye and I wasn’t there to comfort her as she passed on. Not being there for her final moments, even though it was out of my control, has made me sad ever since.

While I was admiring the cute little beagle and missing Penny, I had an epiphany. . . . What if, instead of focusing on my sadness and regret, what if I focused on the happy memories  and funny stories that I had with her; that I had an awesome dog who was part of my life.

What I’m trying to get at, is that unless you’re dying of boredom or your bladder is so full you just can’t even . . .

. . . most endings suck. Goodbyes can be excruciating. Grand adventures coming to an end feel like a let down. Heartbreak can feel like too much to bear. And as healthy humans, we should feel all the feelings.

But when the time to mourn has ended, we should eventually move on; sometimes we just need to let go and hopefully we can eventually rest in the peace and thankfulness that whatever it was or whoever it was, was part of our lives. An ending doesn’t have to diminish the beauty of the beginning and middle. The moments that were filled with love and laughter still are still a part of reality even though they are part of the past. Those memories will always be a part of you and the story of your life.

Life isn’t just a 80 year period of turning oxygen in CO2. It is a story, at least that’s how I choose to view life and having this perspective is the only way my life can make sense.   I don’t understand the reasons why I have gone through certain events in my life, and the “so I can help other people” reason, many days isn’t good enough. But viewing my life as a story arc with highs and lows, victories and loses somehow makes my life make sense: I can’t articulate the “reason why” events happened, but it is part of my story and I’m still here breathing and living, with a little more wisdom. I’m not afraid anymore.

The stories we love are those filled with low points, difficulties, as well as happy, funny, and fair moments.One of my favorite movies of all time is Gladiator, because despite it all Maximus defied all the obstacles that stood before him. We love stories because we don’t know what’s going to happen and/or we enjoy their fun or humor. We enjoy them because of the drama. To have a good life is not to avoid pitfalls, mistakes, and dark days. A good life is made when despite it all you are still here and you are not only alive, but you are living, flowing with the currents of life that are out of your control.

As cliche as it sounds, like in nature, things die to make room, to fertilize for the next season, stage of life. We make mistakes so we can gain wisdom and experience that will, if we allow it to, influence and cultivate a richer life.

I don’t know your story, and I don’t know what it’s like to be you. But I can tell you from experience that a change of perspective can color your world so differently and change your life for the better.

Peace and Love,

K

P.S. Check out Allison Fallon’s post called What No One Says About New Beginnings