Thursday, September 17, 2009

Adventure: the lost part of transition

vision_boardLooking over my recently completed vision board (okay it needs a little tweaking) the word ADVENTURES jumped off the poster board and hit me between the eyes. Having adventures and seeing my new life as an adventure is important to me; important enough to be noted on my vision board. But somewhere along the way I seem to have forgotten that; or at least I have been forgetting to include it in my recent posts.

How do we lose that sense of adventure? How did I lose my sense of adventure?

One reason adventure gets lost is that most of life is a marathon rather than a sprint. It has its sprinting moments but our day-to-day journey is better lived on the pace of the 6-20 minute mile rather than the 10-12 second 100 meter pace.

Two kinds of marathoners or life adventurers

The start and the finish of the Boston Marathon are an exciting adrenalin rush. The middle, between mile 2 and mile 25, is primarily a grind. It takes reaching and looking inside for a different definition of adventure and accomplishment. The runner who doesn’t figure that out and tries to run the race framed in the start/finish definition of adventure and excitement is unlikely to get to the finish line for two reasons: hunger and exhaustion.

Hunger and exhaustion are the racing companions of every long distance runner. The difference between those who finish and those who don’t is often the context in which hunger and exhaustion are framed. Those who get to the finish usually see hunger and exhaustion a signals from their body that they need to change something that isn’t working.

There are others though who view hunger and exhaustion as obstacles to their goal of crossing the finish line; obstacles to be crushed into submission. The problem with fighting against or ignoring hunger and exhaustion is that even the well-conditioned body has limits. When the reserve stores are depleted the body will crash to a stop regardless of the will or drive of the runner.

The adventure of a life transition has similar traits.

My current adventure to discover and build my new life began the day I moved out of my old life. There was at the time very much an early race sense of exhilaration mixed with fear and uncertainty and panic. It was also surreal, or maybe unreal. So much ground had to be covered in the beginning to not only move out but move to someplace. Memories of those first weeks now seem like old home movies played back at double speed (sorry, those who have memories only of VHS and DVD will not really get this).

Then I hit week two (mile 2) and day-to-day life began to shake out as the distance from the start increased. I needed to move forward. I had to find a place to do my writing work. I needed to unpack and settle in and create a home out of a blank apartment. I also had to be mindful of needs like eating and sleeping, and a routine for getting things done. At times there has been a sense of almost impending doom as though I was watching myself in some slow-motion crash.

And that’s where the adventure started to get lost.

All the things nudging me that they weren’t working and needed adjustments got out of hand. True, part of the reason is that this particular set of circumstances has a higher than ordinary number of start gates to clear but at some point the clamber of the everyday became seen as an obstacle to my new life rather than a voice of wisdom suggesting how to get there better.

Somehow circumnavigating stacks of boxes, an extra piece of furniture, a bike, and the cat’s scratching post to find the next meal isn’t quite as invigorating as getting over the top at the marathon from which vantage point the finish line can almost be seen with its visions of fresh fruit and cold unopened water bottles instead of the power gels and dust covered cups of tepid water on the course.

Getting back in the flow.

There is a point in a run where the work of listening and making adjustments pays off and you hit your stride. It doesn’t last very long although elite runners may have longer periods of stride than the rest of us. I have run in the past just enough to have experienced it a few times and it is a moment not easily forgotten. It is truly effortless because everything is working in harmony, the pace, the arm-leg coordination, the breathing. It indeed feels like flying and it is easy to grasp why runners run, or even why gazelles and cheetahs run; because you already feel like a winner whether you reach the finish first or catch that version of dinner.

Noticing the runner’s stride and its emotional reward are easy because somewhere deep inside your being you hear your spirit start singing “I’m flying” in a way that makes you pay attention. Hitting the stride of a day’s routine might not have the same emotional effect. Because daily stride is buried in the everyday normalcy of life, and other reasons, it might be hard to recognize it when it arrives; and it might be even harder to see it as a positive and powerful thing that is helping you move forward.

The stride of daily living serves a purpose similar to the runner’s stride – creating rest at work. Even though work is being done, it is being done so efficiently that there is a kind of micro-resting taking place. This resting is cumulative and it gives you the mental space to start noticing things around you. As a runner you might start seeing the banners held by the spectators or that your pace partner has started favoring one foot. As a life transitioner you might start noticing things like passing the same people bike riding around town regularly or some books you didn’t have room for turned out to be very popular at the library book sale.

Adventures are because they are noticed.

What’s the difference between an adventure and a disaster? There are notable exceptions – the tsunami of December 2004 comes to mind as an example – but for many events in our lives what makes the difference between labeling an event as a disaster or an adventure is how we see it in the context of our lives. When we are overextended and not paying attention to cues that things need adjusting and we are out of our stride, then the next turn of fate we will likely declare as a disaster or blame for a resulting disaster regardless of any long-term positive effect it may eventually have.

So if we can get into our stride a bit each day and create some space and start paying attention; we are more likely to take notice of those everyday adventures that show up to amaze and encourage us as we move forward on our major life adventure.

How’s your adventure going?

If you would like to make your own vision board Christine Kane wrote about them in her post How to Make a Vision Board.

1 comment:

chelle said...

I really like this analogy. I thought I had lost my adventure when we settled down in one spot, no longer traveling. However I am just in the middle. Raising the kids, doing the growing then we will head back to the more adventurous, notable things.