Adventure in America
When You Were Young
When I was a little kid, it seemed like the ultimate day involved embarking on an adventure. Whether my day involved exploring a dangerous ravine in the nearby nature preserve or riding my bike to an area of town which I had not yet explored, it was undeniable that I felt the need for exploration, new experiences, danger, and adventure.
As I think about my current life, and the lives of those closest to me, a question comes to mind. What the hell happened?
Checking a Box
As we have grown older, it seems that life has become about winning. Many of us are all too focused on the destination, rather than the journey. And even when we do focus on the journey, it has become commonplace to want to place our footsteps where others have, rather than finding our own path. One example would be going to Paris and visiting all the tourist traps so that you can “check a box” and know that you have seen the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
In fairness to those who are satisfied seeing only the most famous sights of the world, there are already too many amazing things to see in this world to ever see them all, so it can be construed as a waste of time to go looking for beauty not yet seen. I think its important to make an important distinction between traveling to see the world and adventure. I’m not saying the two are necessarily mutually exclusive, but they can be.
I have admiration for people who have looked for lost treasure in deep dark places or people who travel to the ends of the Earth in search of new species of animals. Imagine discovering the Okapi (half zebra/half giraffe).
America The Judgemental
American society places a huge emphasis on staying within the lines that have been drawn by the last generation. One example would be the way American companies view a large gap in one’s employment. In most European countries, taking 6 months off from work to travel the world would be viewed as a positive thing. Learning about different cultures and having a greater understanding of the world are characteristics that are welcomed and encouraged by European countries. In America, you will probably just be viewed as lazy, and the company considering you for employment may consider you sort of a flake. To be truly adventurous is to be considered unstable.
Times They Are A Changin
When our parents and grandparents were growing up, times were very different. For one thing, travel to distant lands was not as commonplace as it is today. Family vacations were likely via automobile rather than plane. In short, the older generation placed an emphasis on realizing the American dream which was to succeed: To win. The journey was not what it was all about.
As a young professional living in New York City, I find that I am around people who travel very often. It’s a combination of factors such as higher incomes, education, and the overall momentum to “get out of the city” on weekends. As discussed in prior blogs, many New Yorkers get away to ski in the winter and get away to the beach in the summer. But since most New Yorkers don’t have a car, they are often just as likely to fly somewhere rather than spending $300 on renting a car for the weekend. Despite all of this momentum, the tides tend to push ordinary people towards ordinary activities. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the extraordinary.
What Can You Do?
As we look upon 2011, think about the things you have always wanted to do. Look beyond that roads that are well marked and live out the dreams you had as a child. Back when dreaming of adventure was a daily activity.
More importantly, if we are going to change America’s view of taking time to explore the world, we are going to need to start a grass roots movement. Discuss it with your co-workers and take a stand against these very American negative views.
Bright Lights, Big Adventures.