At 24,000 feet on an icy slope in the Nepal Himalayas, you can see the curvature of Earth. The temperature hovers at 20 degrees below zero, and time seems to hang still. My breath freezes to my beard. I struggle to stay warm, struggle to think straight, and struggle to keep moving. I methodically place one foot in front of the other, breathing one breath at a time. Up here, the simplest action takes all of my focus and determination.
My life and livelihood revolve around adventure. Not just adventure in the classic sense of scaling high mountains in remote regions of the world, but also adventure in the mindful sense of infusing each day, each project, and each relationship with intention, focus, and humor.
At its core, adventure is the willingness to commit to an uncertain outcome with an open heart and an open mind. It is the ability to take a leap into the unknown with mindfulness and grace. Framed this way, opportunities for adventure present themselves to us every day: walking a new route to yoga class, having lunch away from your desk with a co-worker, organizing a volunteer project, taking the kids out to dinner and giving your partner the night off.
Adventure isn't something that's reserved for the extreme athlete or the daredevil. It is an expression of your heart's intention and passion for life. It's the ability to think big about who you are, how you live, and what you can do in the world, whether you're climbing mountains, practicing Sun Salutations, or listening to a friend. It is the willingness to embrace challenge and move toward success. It is the acknowledgment that total commitment does not mean blind faith or brazen disregard, but confidence and belief in the face of challenge.
By definition, adventure has an unknown outcome. If something has a predetermined outcome, it's not an adventure but a packaged experience or an amusement ride. Life is uncertain! Being adventurous means seeing that uncertainty as the gift of possibility.
My practice of mindful adventure is not unlike my yoga and meditation practices. It takes work, but the payoff is well worth the commitment. When you approach everything with the spirit of adventure, you infuse your life with vitality and radiance. You find a level of engagement and awareness with everything around you that is deeply satisfying and joyous. Your summits await.
To live life to the fullest, bring a sense of adventure into every moment. It's easy to see some endeavors as adventurous: climbing a mountain, mastering an arm balance, traveling the world. But adventure is about being courageous and passionate in all aspects of your life, work, and relationships.
This new year, breathe a sense of adventure into everything you do by making small changes in your routine. Embrace the uncertainty this brings, and observe how even such small shifts in perception can invite you to see the magic in the mundane.
Try cooking a vegetable you've never eaten before.
Talk to a stranger at a cafe; or in line at the grocery store.
Take a yoga class with a teacher you've never studied with.
Go the long way to work and take in the fresh sights.
Matt Walker is an adventure consultant with Inner Passage in Tucson, Arizona. Visit him at innerpassage.net.