marc2Some of my fondest childhood memories are when my brother and I went on adventures and got lost. Not ‘I can’t find my way home’ lost, but lost in the moment, lost in our imaginations. During summer time. It was when we imagined we were soldiers or pirates or space travelers. When we went exploring and roamed the lush green meadows of the Frisian/Dutch countryside in the warm, bright summer sun. Or when we sailed its lakes and canals in our tiny boat, conquering islands too small for even a single house, pretending they had to be defended against evil villains.

We didn’t carry a mobile phone – this was in the 70’s – so our parents never quite knew where we were and what we were doing. That seems unthinkable these days, not knowing what your 12 year old is up to. My parents didn’t seem too worried. And we always came back. If we were late, we didn’t get food. Simple rule, but it worked.

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I’m a pirate!

There is much more control now. Children are being equipped with GPS trackers with geofencing capabilities (sending an alarm if the child wanders outside a designated area) or smartphones. God forbid we can’t locate kids with sufficient accuracy. That they can’t be contacted at any time during the day.

Don’t get me wrong. The question ‘where is my child?’ is heart-stopping and it is great technology can give a sense of safety and security.

But children also need adventure, away from the supervision and prying eyes of grown-ups. Insulating them from any harm or danger doesn’t do them any good, doesn’t prepare them for the realities of life. Life is full of obstacles, dangers and mysteries and to overcome, face and unravel them, to discover what is behind life’s many doors, one has to explore and take risks. My brother and I took many small risks. Sometimes we stumbled and came home with cuts, scrapes and bruises, but every cut, scrape and bruise was another lesson learned. A lesson about ourselves and about life.

For many of us, the sense of adventure slowly seeps away as we get older. Is it because we have opened all doors? Or is it because we have barricaded ourselves behind predictable, routine-filled lives, driven by our desire for stability, certainty and security? Are we too burdened with responsibilities? Too cash-strapped?

Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing – Denis Waitley

But what happened to living life to the fullest? Where are those daring adventures from our childhood? What about our curiosity?

We all need adventure. It is not about the cheap thrill of adrenaline I am talking about, but about finding ourselves and what it is we want from life. It doesn’t stop when we reach adulthood. If you never dare to take any risks, never enter uncharted territory, you won’t learn anything That’s how I see it at least. And it is not about doing spectacular things. If you want to jump out of airplanes, climb mount Kilimanjaro and rappel down into the grand canyon, be my guest. But adventures can be much simpler. As simple as reading a  book, tasting a strange, exotic dish, see a play at the theater even though you think it is nothing for you. It’s about doing something different, rather than doing something grandiose. Even if it involves doing nothing in particular.

Here are some of the things that I have done in recent years:

  • Reflect (really think about life…)
  • Camp above the Arctic circle (real danger here as there are bears in the area…and oh yes it can be unbelievably cold up there)
  • Party in eastern Romania (off the beaten track)
  • Witnessed the full splendor of the Milky Way in South Africa (on a farm without electricity and running water)
  • Invest in company shares (if the company goes bankrupt I lose my job and shares…talking about risk-taking)
  • Invest in crowdlending (how stupid can you be Marc?)
  • Built a mining rig (computer for mining crypto-currency, worst ever investment? Nope, acquired a great new skill)
  • Learned to make electronic music and blogged about it (waste of time and money and effort? No way!)
  • Visited eastern Europe on multiple occasions (off the beaten track)
  • Ate pigs ears (just once…never again)

Nothing truly spectacular, but all (small) adventures in their own right. And they all involved (or still involve) small risks one way or another. And each experience has taught me something about myself and life and what it is I want.

I know what I want. I want to become financially independent. Then I will have time for even more adventures. Actually, financial independence will be one big adventure in and of itself.

And I am not in doubt.

There is something inherently good about getting lost once in a while.

What about you?

Any thoughts on what I wrote?

What’s your best adventure?

4 thoughts on “A Guide To Getting Lost

  1. “Children are being equipped with GPS trackers with geofencing capabilities (sending an alarm if the child wanders outside a designated area) or smartphones.” That reminds me of a particularly relevant episode of Black Mirror. That show is a little too on the money for my liking!

    I definitely agree with your point – adults need adventure just as much as children. Maybe even more so!

    My biggest adventure was undoubtedly living in China for two years. It was very challenging, but ultimately very fun and rewarding. Since returning to the UK everything has been much more “safe.” Your post is a reminder to not take things for granted, and to keep on challenging myself!

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    1. Wow China, that sounds awesome. You must have had a decent amount of culture shock! And a reverse culture shock upon your return to the UK. What brought you to China?

      Indeed, adventure is important. We should not forget to stay curious and keep exploring. That’s what I am trying at least 🙂

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      1. China was great! The opportunity to work in China for a couple of years presented itself when I was coming to the end of my PhD. I thought, “what’s the worst that can happen?”, and decided to apply and go for it. It was an eye-opening experience, and I have no regrets! I certainly experienced a lot of culture shock on the way out – it was very strange to be an ethnic minority for once, and to not understand the vast majority of what I heard or saw.

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        1. I know exactly what you mean. I lived and worked in the US for 3 years… Not as much of a culture shock as China I suppose, but still… I had to start all over and adapt. And like you with your adventure in China, I never regretted going there and still see it as one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I also lived in Ireland for some time…but that’s much closer to home 😉

          I am actually still a bit of a wanderer and don’t live in my homeland (Holland). Left many years ago…. chances are I will never go back.

          Like

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