Is Life an Adventure or Misadventure?
By Chuck Gallozzi
Is life an adventure or a misadventure? The question is an important one because the view we take colors everything we experience. Our attitude or perspective either works for or against us. So, now and then we need to pause and examine which way our life is heading. After all, if we don't change our direction, we will end up where we are heading.
If we believe life is a misadventure or struggle, we live with resentment, distrust, and fear. We also feel that life is unfair, painful, and a form of punishment. Yet, our view of life is a choice we make. If we don't like what we see, we can change channels just the way we do on a TV set. Are you getting tired of seeing nothing but violence and suffering? Well, then, change channels! For a delightful change, take a look at all the good that is taking place in the world.
Remember that you can always choose what you decide to focus on. When we shift our focus from the negative to the positive, we begin to see the world in a new way. This change of perspective causes us to act differently. And by acting differently, life itself becomes different for us.
The secret of life is realizing that it is a great adventure. Missing this simple point can have disastrous effects. For example, imagine you and a stranger are strapped into a roller coaster. The stranger was plucked out of a primitive society and knows nothing about modern life. At the end of the ride, how will his experience differ from yours? In his eyes, the ride was a devilish form of torture. During the entire trip he was bewildered and in fear. And you? You enjoyed every thrilling moment!
Can you see how the failure to understand the nature of a roller coaster prevented the primitive native from enjoying the ride? It is no different with life. Those who have yet to learn that life is an adventure mistakenly believe they are victims of circumstances, condemned to a life of suffering.
Yet, once we understand the nature of life, everything changes. Can a roller coaster ride be exciting without steep falls and sharp twists and turns?
Neither can life be exhilarating unless there are challenges to face, hurdles to surmount, and problems to solve. Adventurers understand that, so they don't fight and struggle with events, but choose to go with the flow. True, the flow may be as turbulent as white-water rafting, but isn't that part of the adventure?
Life invites us to become adventurers. It invites us to stop whining and start shining, to stop being a victim and start being a victor. It invites us to journey on a quest to discover, uncover, and recover our potential. It invites us to become the hero in our life story by living courageously. It invites us to lead potent lives in which we make a difference by contributing and adding to life.
Life is not a war to wage, but a gift to cherish. We will realize this as soon as we change our focus from what we lack to what we have. Our feeling of gratitude and sense of appreciation releases energy, which will then help us to continue tirelessly in our adventure.
Adventurers don't repress or hide their emotions. Like rainbows, they burst into color as they feel and express a full range of feelings. Fear, anger, disgust, joy, pity, loneliness, surprise, elation, enthusiasm, passion, embarrassment, pain, sorrow, happiness, awe, calmness, and confusion are just a few of the emotions they experience. Unlike the numbness of the living dead, adventurers are alive with vibrant feelings. They feel life, soak it in, sense it, taste it, and fully express it.
Another characteristic of adventurers is their willingness to embrace change and uncertainty. And why shouldn't they? For change and uncertainty are just other words for surprise. No wonder adventurers believe life is a celebration; after all, they spend their entire lives in a surprise party. They love dueling with the unexpected because it keeps them on their toes. Our lives don't have to be boring, they can be as exciting as that of any swashbuckler. All we have to do is accept life's offer; it's asking us to jump in and join in the fun. "The Big Question is," according to Joseph Campbell (1904-1987), "whether you are going to be able to say a hearty YES to your adventure."
If we're just neophyte wayfarers wanting to become heroic adventurers, how do we get from where we are to where we want to be? The best way to begin is with an inspiring dream. Pick a dream that is worthy of a hero. For as Renaissance man Robert Fritz wrote, "If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise." When we live life as an adventure, our destination isn't as important as the transformation we undergo, so don't worry about whether you become entirely successful or not.
Another thing you can do is open your eyes and see. See what? See what Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) spoke about, "We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." Every crossroad we come to is a choice between following the path of adventure or the road to misery. Which will it be? As long as we awaken from our slumber, and look for the right path, we will find it. When we open our hearts, minds, and eyes to what the world offers, we allow it to flood us with riches, so remain alert.
Also, to sustain our adventure, we need to make the right choices. For when we don't choose to befriend others, we choose to be lonely. When we don't choose to open our hearts to others, we choose to get nothing in return and turn our backs on opportunity. When we don't choose to elevate our thoughts, we contaminate our minds with stinking thinking. And if we don't choose to live in the present, we relinquish the only moment we are alive and have power.
You can add a great deal of pleasure to the adventure of life with some humor. For example, the renowned Radio Comic Fred A. Allen (1894-1957) had this to say, "Life, in my estimation, is a biological misadventure that we terminate on the shoulders of six strange men whose only objective is to make a hole in one with you." Despite the value of humor, I'll end on a serious note by quoting from the wisdom of Helen Keller (1880-1968), "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable."