Ordinary Adventures Part 1: In Theory

The word "adventure" seems to have become a popular word in my generation. I used it as a search term on pinterest to get a visual as I was writing and the results (click here to see them!) were full of rope bridges and hang-gliders and beautiful, far-off landscapes.  The text that accompanied some of these images expressed--among other things--curiosity, excitement, and a restless spirit.  Yes, by definition (Merriam Webster in this case) Adventure primarily means "an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks," but it's the secondary definition that I'd like to think about for a little bit. Take out the danger and unknown risks, and you get an "exciting or remarkable experience." I am persuaded to believe that with the right mindset, anything you undertake can be a remarkable experience.

That has been the theme of my summer this year. Finding adventures in the ordinary. Ordinary adventures. I have friends that went overseas this summer, to Ireland, Africa, and India, and in no way do I mean to discredit the adventures they had, but in my own longing to go places and see the world first hand I began to recognize a misinformed idea that you have to go to have adventures. Going is good, and I hope that I can go places one day, (Summit Oxford has a strong magnetic pull for me right now)  but how can I possibly appreciate the adventures abroad, if I can't even appreciate the little adventures that pop up in my everyday life?

I was reading G.K. Chesterton's Tremendous Trifles essay collection earlier this summer, when I was first starting to mull over this idea of having ordinary adventures and in the title essay, one passage in particular really validated my thoughts on the matter. Chesterton was writing about different schools of thought in literature, referencing Rudyard Kipling in saying that some thing that adventures must be had on a grand scale in order to be worthwhile. However, Chesterton's own view was that even the ordinary person in everyday life can see things, and maybe more so. According to Chesterton, Kiplings theory is that,
 "We moderns are to regain the primal zest by sprawling all over the world growing used to travel and geographical variety, being at home everywhere, that is being at home nowhere."
(Having lived in three vastly different regions of the United States I've had enough of being at home nowhere, thanks very much.)

Chesterton goes on to say that,
"The purpose of Kipling literature is to show how many extraordinary things a man may see if he is active and strides from continent to continent... But the object of my school is to show how many extraordinary things even a lazy and  ordinary man may see if he can spur himself to the single activity of seeing."
Of course that last bit got hold of my mind and wouldn't let go, as those who know me well know that I am ever on a quest to truly see the world and not just look at or even through it, but to truly see--things, people, events--as God intended us to, and in so doing, become a little more particularly the particular me I was meant to be.

 And now, I've gone on longer than I anticipated about the ideas in my head this summer... I'll spare your eyes for now and save the practical aspect of my ordinary adventures this summer for part 2 tomorrow!

1 comment

  1. Lovely, Sarah. I tire of the "you must have adventures" meme that has cropped up. Life itself is an adventure, and remarkable experiences only require, as you say here, the gift of seeing and, I would add, caring about what you see. Thanks for this timely reminder!