A woman sits on a train, the rain-spotted windows flash against a dark sky. Buds pressed into her ears. She stares out into the mysterious night.
The announcer intones: “What this woman is listening to is taking her to a place that this train never could. That is the power of a great performance.”
Honestly, what utter pap.
This is an ad for Audible books, of course. The idea implies that life can’t possibly be as interesting as a book. Your life will never be as engaging as something you should buy, listen to or watch.
Hogswallop. Nonsense. An utter lie.
This ad is just one more message about how if we want adventure in our lives, we have to experience it vicariously. Heaven forbid we should be the hero in our own novel.
Now look, if you’re disabled to the point where you cannot possibly move, maybe this works. But when severely disabled folks are making their way up Mt. Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua in South America, I have a terrifically difficult time buying the argument that those of us who are able-bodied can’t go out and create our own interesting stories. It makes no difference whether that adventure is caving in the Carolinas or kayaking in the San Juans. Being willing to step outside our comfort zone to do something different is the essence of a good story- and that’s the definition an adventure.
And it most assuredly doesn’t have to be a physical adventure, either. The point is to explore. Try something new. By definition that creates the story line in our lives that puts us on the Orient Express instead of the daily express into Manhattan.
Your adventure could be finishing your degree at fifty. Adopting a child from China. Buying a ticket to Tibet. Does it really matter?
A dear girlfriend of mine, childless, in her late fifties, adopted a South American girl. You think she’s having an adventure? Transformed her entire existence.
Another decided to finally get her medical degree in her forties. You think that didn’t shift her options just a bit and change the landscape of her life?
At sixty I decided to climb Kilimanjaro, which fundamentally retooled the direction of my life.
Our lives are the stuff of novels. Yet most of us don’t realize it.
Every morning we are each of us given the exact same twenty-four hours. Another page on which we can write the beginning of a new story.
I’m a fan of good books. I read them, too. While I’m on the planes, trains, buses, boats and carts that are hauling me off to my own adventures. They’re inspiration, not a replacement, for living life.
The book Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson back in the early 1980s inspired me to spend four years hitchhiking, flying ultralights and scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I haven’t stopped since.
Where you want to go today? How do you want to live differently?
You can be that person who reads about (or listens to the story about) the person who has the thrilling adventure.
Or you can by golly go out and have one yourself.
I know which one I choose.
See you on the train. Plane. Bus. Horse. Cart. Bike. Hike……