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THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE

I started this particular blog post some time ago, when I did I expected it to be a simple piece to write, I have after all been involved in adventure activities for a long time so it should be easy enough to write about what adventure is, right?

Wrong!

Firstly, the title may be wrong, but I cannot think of a better one; “Is  the level of danger or the outcome the defining factor of adventure”

dooolin crag

Always a nice view, even when the scene is turmoil

not exactly a snappy title. So this is sort of a first overview of the topic of adventure activity and why people do it, with some of the topics being in examined in more detail later.

Adventure is a very subjective thing.

For an individual it can be a simple act which is out of the ordinary for them. Indeed it may be mundane in the eyes of others but a big deal for the individual concerned. For me for example, walking and scrambling across difficult ground in out of the way places has become on occasions routine. However for a person who seldom leaves an urban environment that would be a big adventure requiring them to step out of their comfort zone and do something that to them would be extraordinary  and seem risky and dangerous.

I am not saying that they lead uneventful lives, but that their ordinary is different. Farmers on the other hand would call it work, it’s all relative.

It’s what we in the adventure business call “perceived” risk, making it sound like nothing at all. But it is something, it’s just that as a person familiar with this risk it is obvious that the “real” risk is minimal. But for the person perceiving it, it is very real. Telling someone who is  unfamiliar and scared that – “it’s OK, you’r only perceiving you’r in danger” – is not a good idea, or helpful.

Take climbing.

Safety System being set up.

Putting all the equipment in place for a safe climb

A person on a rope on a very short straight up route being belayed  (Fancy climbing jargon for secured) by an experienced  instructor (that would be me, click this to view my profile) is probably in the safest position they have been in for days. They could have broken an ankle getting out of bed. I knew someone who stepped out of bed with pins and needles in his foot. He put it down and applied pressure in the wrong direction, and when he transferred his full weight onto it . . . I still cringe when I think about it . . . he heard a crack, and that was it, several bones in his foot/ankle broken and he was off his feet for two months and longer to full recovery. Before leaving for the day out the person more than likely boiled water for tea or coffee, need I go there? Grilled or fried a breakfast, walked to the car. Oh now, the car, how dangerous is it to travel in a car?

So is danger a necessary element of adventure?

No: Yes  there is often an element of danger involved, perceived or real.  But the key word might be uncertainty. The final outcome of any adventure is uncertain, you may achieve what you set out to do or you may not. The consequences of not achieving, also know as failing, (sometimes falling!) may be serious or benign, it might be disappointing or lethal . So although danger is often an element of adventure, it is not the defining one. The uncertainty of the outcome is key. Also a point to note is that a successful outcome is not a requirement. I have had some very adventurous days out where the outcome was not the intended one.

One of the biggest lessons to be learned through adventure is that walking away is always an option, sometimes the only one.

The other expectation of adventure is some form of growth or personal insight. People often come to adventure to find themselves or find something in themselves. It happens, but not always and not always straight away. Lets face it, enlightenment in any form takes time and chasing it probably moves it further away.

But adventure will open up opportunities to see yourself and others in ways which may be  unexpected, not always positive but seeing something you don’t like in yourself affords the chance to change it. Seeing others under pressure is also very revealing, one of the reasons adventure works for team building and other corporate uses.

So, to summarise, an adventure is a pursuit which is in some way out of the ordinary, has an uncertain outcome and may lead one to some

easy climbing in The Burren

A nice easy rockclimb on a crag near Doolin. Gentle and with a great view of Galway Bay

insight about yourself and/or your companions.

The nature of that adventure can be a specific activity e.g. going climbing, Or, it can be life,  the only thing is that the uncertainty is all along the way, we all know the certain finishing point. The essence of an adventure deliberately taken should be a reflection of life, allowing for some reflection on the ordinary but multiplied by the extraordinary and the experiences should be able to inform your everyday life.The learning curve is usually steeper and so learning is fast, consequences often take time to arrive in real life, but they always do. You learn about consequences very quickly when you make a bad decision on a mountain or a rock face.

Finally, and importantly, even if it is last! There has also got to be fun or enjoyment involved, even if it’s only when the adventure is recalled, some of my fondest memories are of days which were in part horrendous. Hopefully not on a persons first day, that’s a hard one to get past. But if the experience is not one you enjoy your’re probably doing the wrong activity.

A friend I used to Kayak with always compared white water kayaking to “banging your head off a wall; It’s great when you stop”.

Enjoying a great new experience

Looking very happy during a climbing day out

So, Do it, Be scared by it, Enjoy it and maybe Learn a little about yourself from it and your having an adventure, whatever it is you’re doing.

I hope you’r inspired to come and enjoy an adventure with us. you can book here . . .

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3 Comments to BLOG

  1. Tony Collins says:

    Two friends Willie and Tony had a great weekend in the Burren.. Christie brought us up to Turlough Hill where we saw the Cairin wild goats and the fantastic landscape of the Burren.

    We got a great view of the early Christian settlements and saw some of the fantastic farmland around the Burren.

    To cap the day out we had a great meal and session in Cassidys.

    On the Saturday we walked Black Head Loop and had a great coffee in the coffee shop in Fanoge.

    All in all a great weekend..

    Tony

    Tony

  2. Brian Mac says:

    Very nicely written Patrick. If there is no risk is it still an adventure ? Probably not ! Perceived risk is akin to having butterfly’s in your stomach. The trick is to embrace those butterfly’s

    • Well, Thanks for that Brian, Christy here,
      I suppose that while I would call it perceived risk, for the person experiencing it, it is very real so they are having an adventure.
      Butterflies, They can be calmed by calming your self, what today is considered mindfulness.
      If they will not calm down at least encourage them to fly in formation.

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