Note to reader: this is a piece that has been sitting in my drafts folder for about a year. I no longer remember why I did not publish it back then. It could have been the transpiring pretentiousness. However, now that I have hung up my backpack for a while, I have found it to resonate very well with the new life that I am living.
Nick from Utila told me particularly insightful story he had heard many years ago back in Belgium. It was a rich old man giving a piece of wisdom to a journalist on TV and it went like this:
True adventure has three requirements: energy, time and money. As a young person, you have plenty of time, loads of energy but no money. As you progress into adulthood, you start earning money and still retain most of that youthful energy you had but for many reasons such as family or professional obligations, the clock eludes you.. You age further, you eventually reach retirement, which affords you with much freedom and richness you gathered during your productive life but sadly, the energy has disappeared.
It sounds like a fatality, but upon careful inspection, there is a moment, even a brief one, where the conditions for adventures are fulfilled: the twenties (or more generally celibacy). You have no (real) responsibilities so time and energy are plentiful. You most likely have studied and held a well paying job for a while so money is not an issue. Go.
I’m not saying that there cannot be anything afterwards, quite the contrary, at least I wish that for myself, but as life progresses, it becomes less likely that you will embark on a crazy trip across the globe. For the lack of energy perhaps, but chiefly because you have lost the interest, you’ve “grown’up” to other things; so many decades spent sleeping on a comfortable bed have made you soft. Fear not though, there is plenty left to do and many more experiences to enjoy, the richness of life is infinite, but there are certain things you wish you would have done when you were younger. Playing your cards well is not putting yourself in dangerous situations just for the sake of it, its more like making sure you’ll live on without regrets.
At all stages or life, adventure is exposure, to new things, to hardships, to solitude. Humans do not like change, but it is change that made us humans. The brain only adapts and thinks if there is pressure on it to do so and putting yourself in new environments does just that. La meilleure école, c’est le voyage (the best school is travelling), but on those benches, nothing you learn could ever be summarized in a textbook, it is not discrete knowledge, it’s experience in it’s purest form. It makes you a better person, but more so it gives you an opportunity for introspection and growth not found elsewhere.
Carpe diem as they say.