Overused words, Part 2

Posted by Ken Campbell January 17, 2014 0 Comment 1761 views

Adventure
ad·ven·ture [ad-ven-cher]
noun
1. an exciting or very unusual experience.
2. participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises: the spirit of adventure.
3. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.

Another word that has been trotted out more times than a carnival donkey is the word “adventure.” There is nothing I can think of that hasn’t been tarted up at some point by sticking the word adventure in the title; a simple stroll through the Googlesphere offers up some dandies. There are “Adventures in Needlepoint,” as well as “Adventures with Jesus.” You can book your next “Jet Ski Adventure” on the web. There is no shortage of adventures out there, including an “Adventure Tour of Celebrity’s Homes” (I am not making that one up.)

Has the word been used so much that all of the life and meaning have been sucked out of it? Is real adventure something that belongs to another time and place? Are the things we call adventures simply dry husks of the sweet fruit that used to be, pale imitations of things we’ll never really understand?

And what is the connection between wilderness and adventure?

Yvon Chouinard is on record as saying that he doesn’t consider an adventure to have begun until something has gone wrong. (Yvon is right, but he’s a bit of a pessimist.) Real adventure is, by definition, one of a kind. And it’s not all about high mountain passes and life underground and near-death experiences. It may be something like the salmon dinner, prepared on split cedar over a hot fire on a deserted wilderness beach. Mmmm. There is nothing like it. That’s what adventure tastes like. It could be the first time you go kayaking with your son and you realize that this is a moment that cannot come again, that this is an introduction to a completely different world for him, and you wonder how he’ll take it. Whatever happens, it will happen one time, and one time only. And it will not happen again. That is what real adventure is.

So yes… I’m skeptical of all these canned adventure tours and the like. Real adventure requires desire. “Sure, I’d like to go whitewater rafting,” is not the sound of desire, it’s a diversion. While going to a movie or a ball game might provide one person with a way to use up some time, these pursuits are passions for someone else. People who are passionate about something don’t usually travel in herds and these outdoor adventure sports outfits are there to cater to the herd. Chouinard has a point as well, real adventure does hinge on the unexpected. When things go according to plan, there are no emergencies and there’s nothing that comes up out of the blue, that’s something pretty special, but it’s not adventure.

When it’s all been said, adventure is that moment when you lean back in your chair, just a little too far back, past the point of equilibrium. That feeling that arises instantly in your stomach, the taste of bile in the back of your throat and the intense awareness that has suddenly been thrust upon you. Your muscles are twitching and the hair on the back of your neck is standing out straight. Adventure is that same sensation, just for hours and days and weeks at a time. It is not for everyone.

 

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