The greatest adventure is within

A life of endless discovery

I’m making my way slowly through Krista Tippett’s brilliant book Becoming Wise. Though I typically ignore end notes in books, the notes at the end of each chapter in this book are a gold mine.

This is an excerpt, at the end of a chapter about faith, from an interview Krista had with travel writer Pico Iyer:

I’ve been really lucky to see many, many places. Now, the great adventure is the inner world, now that I’ve spent a lot of time gathering emotions, impressions, and experiences. Now, I just want to sit still for years on end, really, charting that inner landscape because I think anybody who travels knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around — you’re travelling in order to be moved. And really what you’re seeing is not just the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall but some moods or intimations or places inside yourself that you never ordinarily see when you’re sleepwalking through your daily life.

First off: I love this! In particular, the idea of ‘charting that inner landscape’ resonates strongly. When I think of adventure, I think of exploring places or taking on physical challenges. Adventure is — to steal a line from Pixar’s Up — out there. That’s how I’ve always thought of it.

Iyer makes the point, though, that there’s an even greater adventure that awaits. The adventure within. And, he suggests, any outer adventure will actually point us back to the greater, more meaningful adventure of discovering places within us that we wouldn’t ordinarily see.

This year has been a particularly challenging one. My wife, Rachel, has been suffering with post-viral fatigue all year and so I’ve been taking on a lot of extra family responsibilities with our two girls and around the house. One fallout from this is that I’ve lost much of the me-time I’d usually have — especially at weekends. And I’ve felt the effect of this loss significantly.

In a year where much of it has been spent feeling tired and busy, I’ve also felt somewhat lost at times. Questioning who I am and why I’m here. I’ve been living in survial mode and lost a clear sense of direction and purpose. This is partly an inevitable result of the circumstances, but I know I can’t keep living this way.

That’s why this quote from Iyer felt so timely. Even if this life stage isn’t an adventure I would have chosen, I can choose to let it trigger an inner adventure where I discover more about who I am.

And that’s what any great adventure should be about: discovery. I’ve long been determined to never stop learning, growing, and exploring, but tiredness and busyness are the great enemies to living life this way. They are such life stealers. They pull us away from adventure and down into the mundane existence of merely completing one task after another.

I don’t want to settle for that kind of existence! I’m not prepared to sleepwalk my way through life. As soon as my life becomes consumed by one task after another, it’s hard not to lose sight of what genuinely matters — and even my identity.

Iyer’s insights have reminded me of two important things:

First, I regularly need the experience of something outside of my day-to-day existence to draw me back to focussing on and exploring who I truly am.

And second, no matter what is going on with my life, I have to resist sleepwalking through it and find ways to turn every situation into inner adventure and discovery.

Life is too important to waste. Even during times of life that are testing and wearing, I’m learning that I can still make vital choices. Instead of seeing myself as a victim of my circumstances, I can decide to embrace the situation and grow in the midst of it.

So I’m going to become an adventurer. Instead of wishing life was different, I’m going to embrace this challenging year and choose to keep exploring, growing, and discovering more about who I am. I’m going to keep making space to chart my inner landscape.

Daily blogging?

Bedtime tantrums