Every single time I set off on an adventure, I can’t help but ask myself for the millionth time, “Why?” What seemed so logical and simple when the idea initially originated now seems so odd and out-of-the-ordinary.
“Why do I keep doing this sort of thing to myself?” I ask. “What do I get out of it? Why am I doing it?”
It is always at this stage, a few days before the actual trip, that fear, trepidation, and anxiety find their way to settle into my heart and mind. These are not new emotions for me. I feel these when I embark on any sort of change. ANY sort of change. I manage to get myself, like most others, into a daily routine that I am comfortable with. Anything that changes that routine, engaging in a new activity, writing a new article, meeting up with people for coffee, going on an errand I’m unaccustomed to, all these things cause me anxiety and minor trepidations. I have come to learn that if I succumb to these emotions every time I feel them I would do nothing with my life beyond my simple, daily routine.
Yet I am also aware that the anxious emotions I feel before an adventure are well-founded: there are risks involved, I am embarking on a lot of unknowns, and I am leaving my family behind. I have found a way to work with my pre-adventure anxieties. They guide my thoughts to the possible risks involved in my upcoming journey and I make sure to put in an extra effort to organize the trip in a way that makes it as safe as is possible.
None of that removes the nagging question, “Why?”
In no particular order, here are my answers:
- Keeping physically fit has become very important to me. But it never seems enough to me to be physically fit for the sake of it. I go to the gym regularly but I always ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” I need a good answer. Why do I want to have a strong body? Although having a slim, toned body is nice, that has never really been what I am after. It is the physical strength that I seek. I want the stronger body. But to do what with? And that is where many of my adventure ideas have stemmed from. I’m working out in the gym and I ask myself, “What can I do with a fitter body if I work out just a little bit harder?” And in the gym an adventure is born. The excitement that follows helps keep me going, day after day, pushing myself further to become stronger and stronger.
- I have come to need one big event in my life every year that I can look forward to. I love every single phase of these events. I love the process involved in coming up with the idea, I love the planning, and I love the actual journey. It uplifts me. It makes other aspects of my life so much more worthwhile or tolerable.
- I’ve learned that there is much self-growth to be had in my big adventures. And let me stop here just for a second. What I might consider to be a tremendous adventure might be to others a simple trip or activity. It’s all very relative, you see. It’s relative to oneself and one’s previous experiences. You don’t need to think of the activities I engage in as adventures if they are simple undertakings for you. That’s fine by me. But to me, they are my life-changing, dare-devil, ultimate, out-of-this-world experiences. I love-hate taking myself out of my comfort zone. I love-hate it. Love love love love-hate hate hate hate it. And that’s an important reason I do it. I know that I need to push myself further to be the better person I want to be. I want to be a stronger person on the inside and out. I want to know that I can do things on my own. I want to know that I can face adversity in the eye and look it down. I want to know that even if it often looks me down instead that I can somehow find my way back up onto my feet and try again. I need to know this. Every journey I’ve been on has taught me lessons about myself. I return from these journeys with memories and experiences that I can apply to my daily life to make it just that little bit better.
- My adventures are my way to meditate. They are my way to block out the noise of daily life to contemplate the things that really matter to me. They even allow me to block any thoughts from my head sometimes for hours on end to focus on the physical activity – usually grueling – at hand. In a way, my adventures are my brain holidays.
- I choose adventures that allow me to see things that I would not normally see, do things I would not normally do, and perhaps meet people I would not normally meet. I have seen so much of this world yet I know I have seen so little yet. With every single encounter, whether with nature or with another culture or with other human beings, I learn something. I love learning by reading. But never do books have the same impact on me as the actual experiences I have. I thrive on learning by doing and experiencing.
- I do not want to live my life by watching others live theirs. I love being able to read about other people’s experiences and learning through their growth processes. But I decided some five years ago that there was no reason for me not to have my own experiences. I want to live my life too. I want to dream. I want to find ways to accomplish some of my dreams. I want to experience some of those dreams. Others have done that. I am truly happy for them. I want that too. I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to live my life in a way that I find enjoyable. I want to figure out what is really important to me to be doing with my time and just do it. I want to be lying on my deathbed, whenever that day comes, and say to myself and to God, “I have lived my life. I have no regrets. Alhamdulillah (thanks be to Allah).”
Here I sit, dreading the adventure I have spent months preparing for, praying for more positive than negative experiences, praying I keep safe, and hoping I can focus on enjoying it rather than worrying about it. I know why I keep doing this to myself. It is more than worth it.