Fitting Adventure into Your Life

August 23, 2011 · 15 comments

I’m in Nicaragua. I’m so NOT in Nicaragua.

Can you see the zipline from here?

I’d bought a ticket to fly there two days after my last day at work, with little plans other than than to find a zipline and get away from my computer. But as I was stuffing clothes into my pack the day before I was supposed to leave, I happened to check out my passport, and whatdoyaknow, it was scheduled to expire halfway through my week-long trip. (I’ve never had to renew my passport before. Ever.)

“You’re surprisingly calm,” my roommate said when I told her what I’d just discovered.

I was calm. Because there was absolutely nothing I could do about it in the next 20 hours. So why bother getting upset? Besides, I’d bought that ticket on a lark, so I could just as easily do something inside the United States to celebrate my new-found freedom.

Plus, now that I’m able to work remotely, I can use that ticket another time. Like, as soon as I renew my passport.

Because while I love my life in D.C., I’ve let it get, well, boring. Since I moved to the capital nearly a year ago, I’ve met new friends, learned my way around my neighborhood, and enjoyed my job even though it wasn’t right for me long term. That job was primarily phone reporting — rather than get-out-into-the-world reporting — so I’ve spent much of the last year at a desk. Which, as you can probably imagine, was difficult to stomach after riding a bush taxi through Africa.

I missed the rush of experiencing someplace new, of not knowing what each day would bring. I missed feeling alive.

Why didn’t you take a vacation, you ask? Because in the crazy American culture of work, we only get a few weeks off every year. I was hoarding nearly all my vacation time to go to a writer’s colony in September. (And yes, I’m still going!)

What I should’ve done was fit adventure into my life on weekends. I did a little of that. But I spent more time building this blog and helping clients with social-media strategy and creating blog products. I focused on those ventures so I would have the freedom to ditch my day job if it came to that — and since it did, I’m glad I put the energy into my side hustle. But I should’ve also made more time to go sky-diving or explore new cities or do some other activities that would’ve given me the thrill I’m craving now.

Because without that occasional rush, I can’t sit still. Before I decided to leave my job to become a slasher, I was thinking about leaving in early March to hike the Appalachian Trail. In retrospect, I realize maybe it wasn’t so much the trail I wanted to tackle but the thought of having something more exciting to look forward to. Now that I’m making this move to work with new, awesome clients on blogging and social-media strategy (and still have bandwidth for another!), I don’t feel that same tug to hike 2,000 miles.

So as part of my new workstyle — That’s not a word, is it? It should be. Like “lifestyle,” but for work — here’s one of my goals: fit adventure into my everyday life, so I don’t feel like I need to drop everything and do something crazy for six months.

What’s the best way to do that? I’m still figuring it out, but Nicaragua is a good start — even if it needs to be rescheduled.

How do you fit adventure into your life?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather August 23, 2011 at 8:17 am

I love this post, and its core thought. I’m an adventure junkie too, though not quite as extreme as you are! :) Backpacking, especially in the mountains of the West, where the population is less, is what gets me going.

So being stuck in the city is tough for me. I’ve learned that exploring in the traditional city sense — museums, shows, sights — is kind of boring because it’s not real life. I need to get out on foot and walk it, and see neighborhoods and people doing what they do. So this weekend, for example, I walked to my church in Eastern Market from my apartment in Logan Circle. I took snapshots of leaves, kids in fountains, whatever struck my fancy. This week, I’ve been getting up extra-early to walk to favorite coffee shops, making a two-mile (or more) round-trip loop to work. Somehow, that fulfills my sense of adventure, in a “you don’t know what quirky thing I just did” sense.

But I still can’t wait to go hike part of the John Muir Trail in a few days!

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Kelsey August 23, 2011 at 8:32 am

I think this is something that a lot of travel bloggers really neglect to talk about. You can lead a really adventurous life at home, if you’re creative! Marc and I are almost never, ever home on weekends. If we’re not at a reenactment, we drive up into the mountains for some hiking, or we drive off in a random direction into the countryside to see what we can find, or we decide to explore a new part of DC that we’re unfamiliar with. This is part of why I don’t mind going for years between major trips, because my life at home is just as exciting, if not moreso, than traveling somewhere more “exotic”.

Adventure doesn’t have to require a 3-month trip to Central America, or a safari in Africa. It’s all about your mindset and, as you said, the creativity to fit adventure into your current lifestyle.

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Heather Rae August 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

I’m not sure what the answer to that is. Most weekends, I go hiking. And I absolutely love that. I find when I’m at home, finding a new place to hike and spending the day outdoors is perfect (especially if I’m climbing a new peak). Or I do things to push myself (like ziplining on Fremont Street or taking pole dance classes). But I still can’t shake the need to drop everything and do something crazy every once in a while. I think some of us just have it in us – the need to push ourselves and be adventurous in a way other people simply don’t. I’m never going to be the person that holds onto a job for 20 years. I’m going to need the occasional break to run off to another part of the world and explore for months at a time. And I sort of love that part of myself (even if it does terrify potential employers). :)
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Lucille Zimmerman August 23, 2011 at 9:38 am

Wow, Alexis, I love your zen approach to a setback. Isn’t is amazing how the things we tell ourselves makes all the difference in how we experience the event. I’m excited to hear all the fun things you do next.

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Alexis Grant August 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm

It ended up being OK because I’ve had SO many ideas this week! Things happen for a reason.

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John Pender August 23, 2011 at 9:56 am

I miss it too. I miss being able to pack up my stuff and go spend a weekend in the mountains in a tent or being able to head off to the beach. I’ve hiked the Appalachian. Not the whole thing, but the same section three times (between Neel’s Gap and Woody Gap). I’ve let the adventure slip away and need to find a way to fit it back in.
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Kurt Swann August 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Alexis!

Can really relate. Had been planning a hiking/climbing trip to Russia for earlier this year but because of family matters, a nagging injury, and other scheduling issues I decided to put it off. But then I thought about things I can do locally and ended up taking skydiving lessons. The drop zone is only a 45 minute drive so I can go on a Saturday morning and be home by noon . . . just did third solo jump. Not an expert but just a few hours here and there have opened up a whole new world right in my own backyard! Thanks!

Kurt

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Alexis Grant August 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm

That is SO COOL! I love all these specific examples in the comments… Got to integrate some of them into my own life.

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Torre – Fearful Adventurer August 23, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I’m a binge adventurer.
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C. Hope Clark August 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm

I might also hear a little bit that you are too bound to a computer, writing, and publishing. You might analyze that as well. What if you were more involved in the travel industry, or a job that involved frequent travel? That way you’d combine travel and your work. But like I tell writers who want to write but don’t want to market, you have to take the bad with the good in order to make a living in this world.

Guess that sounds like a mother hen, but wanderlust comes with a price unless you can turn it into your profession somehow.

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Alexis Grant August 23, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Yes! So true. I LOVE what I do, but I have to sit at a computer to do it. I need a little mother hen every once in a while!

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Drew Bush August 24, 2011 at 10:21 am

Wow, this post amazes me. Nicaragua is a place I loved visiting and would very much like to see again someday soon. But hiking the Appalachian Trail – that’s been on my short list for quite some time and gives me trepidation as I ponder the intense 4-year commitment I am soon to begin…eek…
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Faith August 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Good for you, not freaking out! Fitting adventure into your daily life is very important, I agree. I’m always frustrated when people are living for a distant goal that they’re working towards and seem miserable and desperate in the mean time. I like going for short day trips on the weekends, and hiking around new places. Sometimes after working all day I’ll go for a picnic for dinner at a new park. Just doing something different :)

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