This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information.

People & Culture

The truth about adventure

  • Jul 03, 2012
  • 501 words
  • 3 minutes
Expand Image

The solo canoe trip is brimming over with sheeting rain, cold days and nights, wind-swept lakes and soggy, limp food. My sleeping bag is damp, my tarpaulin leaks, my stove sputters and I lost my watch on day one.

Clearly this trip is an adventure gone wrong.

Yet it’s proving to be one of my best canoe trips ever!

So just what is “adventure”?

Here are the unadorned facts: adventure is often uncomfortable, wet, lonely, cold, sleepless and chock full of uncertainty. Usually it isn’t much fun, and certainly not easy. Those who find themselves in an adventure often ask themselves, “So why am I doing this?”

Hobbits have a much better understanding of adventure than do humans. “It’s a dangerous business going out your door,” Bilbo told his nephew Frodo. “There’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Adventure looks better from a comfortable distance.

Why don’t humans understand this?

Most times when reading adventure stories we’re viewing events through rose-coloured glasses. We’re reliving the trek while propped up on several pillows in front of a cosy, warm fireplace. We can predict how the adventure turns out. We know that the hero survives the rapids, lives for days in the forest without food, struggles against the odds and finally stumbles back to civilization a hero.

But the person living the adventure doesn’t know how it’s going to turn out. Adventure doesn’t always look so deliciously appealing when you’re huddled wet and shivering on a desolate shore under an overturned canoe in mud up to your elbows with hail pounding the ground. Been there. Done it. And it was…well…fun, sort of.

My wife understands this wisdom. Days after finishing a gruelling, bug-infested, three-week wilderness canoe trip with me in the North, she responded to the question: was it fun? “Not really,” she said honestly. “But it was a great life adventure. I’m glad I didn’t miss it.”
It’s not always easy to recognize adventure, even when it hits you with a thousand mosquito bites!
Adventure can either defeat us or make us fully alive to life’s possibilities. It can make us brim over with complaints and bitterness. Or it can transform us into a puppy sitting on the back seat of a car, its head stuck out the window and its tongue flapping in the wind — absolutely delighted with life.

So when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, ask yourself, “Is this an adventure?” Sometimes we just have to seize the day — carpe diem!

Remember… your hiking boots are only 48 hours away from being anywhere, ANYWHERE in the world! But you have to take that first step. Choose your adventure wisely, then go for it!

Allen Macartney is completing a solo trip on the Yukon River to retrace the route of prospectors in the days of the Klondike gold rush. Read more of his blog posts and learn about his Royal Canadian Geographical Society-funded expedition.


Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

Ry Moran at 50 Sussex Drive

People & Culture

Interview: Ry Moran on truth, reconciliation and his hopes for Canada at 200

The director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation reflects on Indigenous progress in 2017 and looks ahead to 2067

  • 1163 words
  • 5 minutes
Phyllis Webstad

People & Culture

Behind the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Links to previous Canadian Geographic stories provide coverage and context

  • 1027 words
  • 5 minutes
Charlene Bearhead

People & Culture

Charlene Bearhead on the role of education in truth and reconciliation

The former Education Lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation on moving from apology to action in Canada’s 150th year  

  • 736 words
  • 3 minutes

People & Culture

How Marie Wilson will mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Episode 22

For the former Commissioner of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30 is akin to Remembrance Day

  • 46 minutes