A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.” — Wilfred Peterson
While I haven’t really broken the chain of all my routines in life (the foods I generally prefer, the friends I tend to hold on to, the clothes I’ll usually consider, etc.), I did take a chance on leaving a good job, a great group of friends and the comfortable closeness of my amazing family for something intangible: adventure.
Since departing, I’ve met heaps of new people – many of whom I would gladly attempt to become friends with if we had more time together – and stayed in touch with a good deal of the old friends (thanks Facebook!). I’ve tried new food, but Australia is not a place that really sends the North American palate for a loop. Reading new books has always been part of my life, so nothing new there.
As for new hobbies, I took a chance on becoming a PADI-certified diver before leaving for my trip and I am so glad I did. You see videos and pictures of people scuba diving and you think, “Oh, that’s neat,” but until you try it, until you jump off the back of a boat, pop the respirator in your mouth and slowly release the air from your BCD, you have no idea how neat it really is. I appreciate learning to dive in Lake Travis with 3 – 6 ft visibility because it taught me to control my breathing even when I was relatively blind underwater. Fast-forward two and a half months and I’m leaving Cairns, QLD on a boat headed for the edge of the continental shelf. I strap on a tank and jump in to witness the Great Barrier Reef with exotic fish and sharks that I can see over 60 feet away! The marine life around the coral, even the coral itself, would be breath-taking if breath-taking wasn’t so deadly down there. After 10 more dives, including a couple of dives in the dark of night, I’m an Advanced Diver and looking forward to future dives.
If feeding wild animals can be considered a hobby, then sign me up for that one too. I had the chance to feed wild Rock Wallabies the other day on Magnetic Island and, let me tell you, those are some cute and intimidating little creatures. You walk by a hill of giant boulders and suddenly see a small furry face from a crevice. Before you even open the little container of Wallaby food, a couple more little guys have poked their head out or taken the chance to jump down a rock or two to get closer to you. I realize these particular wallabies are acclimated to humans to the point of practically being domesticated, but when 15 – 20 of them start hopping your way for a handout, a John Hammond kind of fear begins sneaking up on you.
Contrast that with the feeding of wild lorikeets. A few dozen of the most colorful, fast-flying birds in the world covering your hands, arms and head as you feed them soggy bread. The only fear here is being pooped on (which I miraculously escaped).
As for adopting new viewpoints, I’m still working on that one. I’ve found that America is still the world’s punching bag and I spend a great deal of time defending it. No, not everyone carries a gun (yes, I own one but don’t spend my days thinking about homicide). Yes, Americans eat a lot…but we have really good barbecue. Yeah, most of us only speak one language, but we’re not surrounded by 16 different countries. Besides, most of those other countries speak English, so we’re good, right? I kid. Sort of.
So, I’m trying to practice the art of adventure. A tip of the hat to Wilfred Peterson for his phrasing: I like the sound of adventure being an art form to practice rather than an event which normally always ends too soon (and without nearly as many explosions as the movies portray).