I’m doing a course that requires people to really adventure each week. The kind that gets under your skin. The kind that takes you out of your skin. and leaves you a tad skinless on your own shores. A few of the students keep asking how to adventure. And after pushing it off, ‘I’m taking a stab at the fucking how. Tho, writing about skinless shores is not The Easy.
How to fucking adventure
0. It’s a little a lot like the advice for how one might learn to fly in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, meaning,
“You must learn how to throw yourself at the ground, and miss. Pick a nice day and try it. The first part is easy.”
1. In the movie Spanglish, the dad character played by Adam Sandler gently wakes up his kid with, “good morning. It’s not time to wake up. It’s not even time to think about waking up, but it’s time to think about thinking about it.” Pause for effect. “Are you thinking about it?”
You are the Adam Sandler dad character. Tiptoe on into your psyche-lair, fun house-dance land. Find your sleeping sloth teenager Fascination and gently whisper to her that it might be time to start thinkin’ about waking up.
2. Stop cleaning and tidying e’rr thing.
Take a stab at learning to abide and breathe through the part of you that simply will not, shall not! abide any unclosed gap, even if the gap isn’t ready to close, even if the question hasn’t been truly answered, even if the journey is not over, the closing note yet to sing out. There’s a level of presence of big picture lens wearing that helps here.
Also helpful: get friendly with primordial ooze. It is on the chaotic edges of the oceans where the vast majority of sea life teems, writhes and frothily abides. Don’t clean up what doesn’t want cleaning. Don’t unduly or prematurely tidy or you’ll become allergic to the chaos necessary to adventure.
This doesn’t mean going full slob, it means learning to make distinctions around when you are unnerved by a thriving ecosystem because you’re not up to speed with the boom whoosh or when something is truly broken or needs a clean up. The crux of the distinction for me lies in my emotional response, the first makes me feel uncomfortable and I just want to clean it away, where as a true urge to clean, mend, heal, restore order feels relieving, bettering.
Abraham asked a woman who was struggling over the mess in her house, “when is your house actually clean?” She replied. “When I’m all alone, when no one is there.” And she realized that the mess that she was so bothered by was actually the beautiful mess of a creative life in progress. Once she made peace with that, she could develop systems to keep her home clean without being emotionally triggered by the delicious primordial ooze of the creative process.
And, all honest lives are creative expressions of pure life force energy. As such, they require whatever the essential artist requires of her inner and outer studio: wild spaces, quiet places, and hidden aces. To keep her in inevitable proximity to the essential vitality.
3. Tigger the shit out of the impossibility. By its very nature, an adventure will carry you into chaos of impossibility, that’s what makes it an adventure: a direct encounter with your personal threshold in an area of your life in manner that allows you to explore and even push out that edge a little.
You can use the energy and details of that impossibility like a navigational star chart. The difficulty, impossible situations, and primordial oozes all bring a laser focus to the exact place you need to activate your powers. So useful, if you’re into that kind of thing.
At such an impasse you have to tune in about 200 clicks to be able to discern or invent a way around. You may find yourself stranded and have to dig very deep for sleeping and forgotten resources and skills and capacities. This is the moment when you may realize you are on an adventure and that you don’t want to call for help. You actually want to be the help.
4. Which brings me to my next bit, kick the stool out from under you. Or as Cortez and Alexander the Great did, burn your damn boats.
Here’s an example: while on the Travel By Yes mission, my friend asked if I wanted to bike to a cafe 5 miles away. We were traveling with 13 people in 3 large rigs, with little time for personal exploration, (which, is so effing important to me). At the time, my biking playground was closed. I had a bunch of ideas about why I wasn’t biker and didn’t like it. But my desire to be free was slightly louder than the voices telling me I couldn’t bike. So, I said yes, I didn’t know I was saying yes to the tiny tip of the iceberg of adventure that I could see, and that I would have to continually up and expand my yes to keep up with the bigness of the adventure as it carried me deeper, further than I’d ever been before.
Here’s how it went: Becca and I sailed out at dawn off the top of the mountain where we’d camped the night before in the rigs with the 13. I can still feel the exhilaration and absolute life force thrill of pulling out onto the open road for the first time. Especially because those first few miles took us down a very steep mountain downhill, crazy fast downhill, in and out of the first rays of sun dropping me back into the cool pine dense patches of shadow, me whizzing so fast, and absolutely that every thought left my head.
Then a hill that I had to climb appeared, and I instantly wanted nothing to do with it. I remembered clearly why I didn’t like biking. That uphill crap was for over achievers! But Becca the Butt was up ahead, clearly not stopping, clearly not struggling. Did I want her to leave me in the dust? I did not. And fuck going back up that nine mile sheer drop off of a cliff I’d just come down.
So forward, up the next Vermont mountain became my yes. And when I tuned in, I realized something neat and unexpected, my legs actually liked it. I mean, they REALLY liked what they were doing. The precious burning, the all in fucking going for it, like a corvette that’s been unused in a garage for a year just wants to rip it all the way out on the highway.
I also discovered that laziness was thinking was an absolute no go. The second I started thinking negatively, I started to lose steam whatever steam I had, immediately. This became increasingly important as the miles unfolded (it turned out to be TWENTY SIX miles actually. I have the best skanky lie-face bitch best friend ever) and I had long since completely drained whatever known batteries in my legs, and started operating on god knows what stuff. I was approaching the part of an adventure that gives it its street cred.
Do you know the part? If you’ve read this far, maybe you do. Maybe you’ve been ushered into an exquisite new corner of the secret garden of yourself on the wings of an adventure. I’m talking about the part of an adventure that steadily holds you over some chasm that you’ve been backing away from in your normal waking life, and here, now, in this heightened state you are suddenly in a situation where it’s inevitable that you are going to make it across, mostly becasue you have no other choice (I cannot emphasize the burning your boat thing enough, burn, baby, burn).
And so, with trembly legs and wobbly emotional swings like a bipolar rhino in heat and on angel dust, I had to find that part of me that I hadn’t seen in awhile, that secret sixth gear.
Those last “five” miles I rode in my newly rediscovered sixth gear, somewhere I’d not been in a long while, and never accessed biking. Here’s where the game of me using language to carry you the reader along falls apart. To say I was exhilirated and beyond my own yen is tiny. To say I was seeing as God sees, tasting everything, tasting the music of the wind and feeling how lusty and wild the sun is, pales in comparison with the fullness of that unforgivably alive state.
(Yeah I’m talking about how All-In, inevitable Burn Your Fucking Boats adventures fling you into the optimal state of being known as Flow, but I wanted to be a little complicated and storytelly so maybe you’d feel and not try to know it so much, and maybe even glean a taste for the possibility of it, maybe even remember a little of the essential lust to be all the way alive. Which is the beginning of every endeavor worth its salt.)
4. Bare the stark and haunting sudden wallop of loneliness and freezing isolation that comes when you disengage from the steady warm drizzle of distracting yourself, rather than engaging your life.
And by this I very much mean: I dare you to leave your fucking phone at home.
5. Expand and enliven your adventure repertoire. An adventure is determined by the state of being of the participants, not by the action. Last night, dancing on my roof and then painting translated dreams onto people’s arms and backs was not an adventure for me, but a pleasantry. I do it all the time. It was vivifying and delightful, but took me nowhere near my personal edge.
It’s more of an adventure for me to sit through a conversation with a lover and not run away even though I’m saying what’s really true for me and that terrifies me and makes my legs wobbly and knees nauseous. I know it’s an adventure because tho 99% of me wants to call a lifeline in to haul me out of the jungle, one very important percentage of me wants to break through into the secret sixth gear. Every lover has a secret sixth gear! What a fucking thot!
6. Explosive shit ass day got you down? Great! Use all that nutrient rich emotional volatility to launch yourself off on a really fucking great adventure. Next time you get into a tangle or a fuzzle and don’t know what to do with yourself, just walk out the door. Just how you are. Keep walking. Make up the rules that feel right to your as you go. They’re the right ones for right now.
May your fuss be a mighty wind to launch you into Mighty Adventuring. Don’t Netflix it away when you could use that magnificent and unresolved passion to blow your sails straight back.
7. Hang the fuck ON! When your soul is calling you towards adventure, the Universe responds, powerfully.
Adventures that feel so bright and right, feel so, because they are so.
Adventures concierge you into little known parts of yourself, make the connections, and help you really get to know the city of your secret sixth gear self. But you’ve got to participate by staying focused on the game at hand, tending your thoughts, renewing your yes as it deepens and leaning into the fun in your own unique way.
8. Keep your ear to the ground (you’re always listening for buffalos).
Depending on the nature of the adventure, your primary mode of moving through the adventure may depend entirely on your own fascination; in any given situation, there is always something a little more glowinger than other options.
That’s the right way. And the more woke up and dressed for success your own fascination is, the quicker you’ll be able to identify the glowingest bit and take timely action to engage it fully.
Adventuring well is like log rolling, if you stop before the river has carried you to the other side, you get immediately rolled. In extreme sports this can mean death or mega injury. In adventures of the heart, it might mean becoming inauthentic and misrepresenting yourself. Either way, the heart of the adventure begins to immediately die the moment you stop truly conversing with her.
9. Become fluent in the language of Heart of Adventure. It’s in the options for languages on the app Duo Lingo. Just kidding. Just kidding about being just kidding, how do I know? It probably is and I didn’t have the girl balls to expect it or go looking for it.
Beyond issues of girl balls and language acquisition, you’ve got to remember that the heart of adventure speaks a unique language as rare and endangered as a polar bear and that by becoming fluent in it we not only preserve an ancient and essential dialect, but add to it because in the moment you leap o’er that chasm, grow those wings, and do the impossible thing, some new and as yet nameless essentiality sails into being.
Embedded in the very sailing forth is the urge to name, to know, to own, to control, to be able access more fully. That urge awakens the fairies of language to shape and shadow, to light and set on fire the nameless impossibility we’ve just found, by gifting it a name.
10. Let life do you. Once when I was cramped and confused sexually, I followed some bright and inspired urges, which led me to an interesting relationship with a partner who loved S&M.
For a gorgeous span of sexual adventuring I recovered my inherent capacity to let go and let life do me.
It took me out of the part of my thinking apparatus that confusedly felt that it needed to organize, fix, support and do everything. The adventure gently and sexily walked me into a very receiving trusting, relaxedly passive and curious way of allowing life to inspire, lead, and astonish.