Adventure Is Yours for the Taking
By Darin Colucci
It’s been fifty-six years since Ernest Hemingway died, yet his presence is still felt around the world. Tens of thousands of people tour his homes every year. Old men with white beards, berets, and red ascots compete in the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest in Key West. Dozens upon dozens of biographies about his life exist, and you can find at least one in nearly every bookstore. But why? I imagine most people would say that Hemingway remains relevant because of his body of work as an author, but I don’t think that’s it at all. There are plenty of Nobel Prize–winning authors who are dead and long forgotten, and absolutely no one is shelling out fifteen bucks for a drink named after them.
Here’s my theory: Hemingway still represents adventure. He’s synonymous with it. His pursuits said, “To hell with it.” He faced danger, sought out excitement, and found the romance in moments that others ignore. In short, he understood the difference between living and merely existing. EH saw what he wanted, planned his assault on its attainment, executed the game plan with zealotry, and then toasted the conquest, doing each of these things with equal vigor.
So why are the rest of us reduced to living vicariously through Ernest Hemingway, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, or George and Amal Clooney? The answers are as varied as they are predictable: because we’re too busy; because we don’t have the money; because we have responsibilities to our families; because we can’t take a week off to chase marlin off the coast of wherever. These are things we tell ourselves, but the real answer, of course, is that we’re too afraid to leave our comfort zones. We accept that what we want most out of life is something we aren’t capable of getting. Oh, how much we miss by letting our limiting beliefs run wild and, in many cases, ruin our lives.
There is nothing more ultimately vital to a person’s emotional health and happiness than to pursue the things about which he or she is most passionate. Unless you are one of the blessed few who love what they do for a living and you simply can’t wait to get up in the morning, you are probably working so you and your family can survive. Don’t get me wrong; this is noble. But most people who find themselves in this situation almost invariably feel trapped at some point. Every day is the same. We get up, work all day, and make sure that at the end of the month, the numbers balance out in our favor so that everyone else can go on living their lives! (That last line is paraphrased from The Fabulous Baker Boys.) And this is precisely why we all need to work some adventure into our lives.
Whether it’s photography, scuba diving, hiking, traveling, skeet shooting, gardening, horseback riding, or falconry (yes, it still exists), finding something that interests and excites you is an absolute imperative if you want a happy life. And the pursuit need not take place on Kilimanjaro to qualify as an adventure. Anything that speaks to your soul qualifies. For me, it’s fly-fishing.
There is nothing more ultimately vital to a person’s emotional health and happiness than to pursue the things about which he or she is most passionate.
Twenty-five years ago, my brother bought me a fly rod and reel for a graduation present. At the time, I had absolutely no interest in fishing. When something bored me, I was fond of saying, “This is about as interesting as watching two guys fish.” But once I got into it, a whole new world opened up. I love reading about techniques and new equipment. I get up early on weekends to watch fishing shows. My brother and I have saved our money and taken trips to exotic places to pursue particular species of fish. I began to see and experience places and cultures that, as far as I was concerned, had only existed in books. My life was filled with passion and excitement where it hadn’t previously existed.
We once entered a sailfish tournament in Guatemala. Imagine that—two kids from New Jersey going to chase sailfish in Central America. It once seemed unthinkable but became totally doable once we believed it was possible. We took care of each and every responsibility first, but then made a point to carve out five days for ourselves. Apart from the armed guards that escorted us in and out of the lodge (adventure isn’t always cool), it was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. We saw and caught one of the most majestic creatures in the sea. We challenged ourselves in both a physical sense—these fish are strong—and in an emotional sense—we had never caught even a single sailfish before entering the tournament, so it was something completely outside our comfort zone.
While we sat around after a great dinner, recapping the day’s experiences, seeing where we were on the leaderboard, and scheming our plan for the next day, it hit me: moments like this are what life is all about. They’re why you work so hard. Adventure and passion are the difference between existing and living. Find your passions, plan your adventures, and start collecting experiences—not to list them, but to live them. You’ll be a happier person for it, and who knows what might happen?
— V —
Darin Colucci is an author, motivational speaker, and attorney from Duxbury, Massachusetts. His book Everything I Never Learned in School: A Guide to Success is available on Amazon.