Alex takes to the FINDRA Journal this week to reflect on a life more restrictive than before and the opportunities it presents for doorstep discoveries, everyday adventures and a new perspective about the world around us.
As we head towards the end of the year, it’s hard to believe the way 2020 has unfolded and the dramatic shifts in lifestyles that we have all had to make to adjust to living in a world consumed by a global pandemic. As an outdoor lover it’s been a bit of a strange one, from the limitations on how long we can spend outdoors to where and how far we can travel to and then there’s the unprecedented growth in the number of people taking up outdoor activities for the first time. Who would have thought!
We have all had to adapt to this new way of life to varying degrees. For me, one of the great positives in the midst of so much negativity has been the joy of ‘doorstep discoveries’ the opportunity to make the most of what’s around us, the opportunity to look at our surroundings in a different way with fresh eyes the chance to explore more and be a little more adventurous as we look for newness in the familiar.
We have all heard the term ‘everyday adventure’ we have used it a lot at FINDRA and in a way, it seems to have come into its own in 2020.
‘Everyday Adventures’ have been an important part of the FINDRA ethos since I founded the brand. Over the past few years at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival, we have hosted the Everyday Adventure Talks opening up the discussion to a wider audience to try and understand exactly what ‘everyday adventures’ are and whether we do and can have them?
What exactly is an ‘adventure’? Is it really a big trip or a long-planned for expedition, does it need to be? Often when we hear the word adventure we conjure up a sense of something much bigger the unknown, the scary, the extreme, the unachievable. For most of us ‘big adventures’ are in reality just not possible, we may dream of them or hope to have one someday but the reality for most of us is that ‘big adventures’ are just not that viable.
Is it possible that ‘adventure’ or being adventurous could be as simple as choosing to stray from the predictable, to take the scenic route home instead of the usual one, is it maybe as simple as being willing and open-minded enough to do something different or unfamiliar just to see what happens, to take the left when you would usually always take the right turn? Is it the thrill of the unknown the spontaneity and feeling you get when you don’t really know what’s going to happen next, and if that’s the case can it be found in more modest ways?
Getting outdoors has always been an important part of my life, growing up in a suburban area meant we didn’t have instant access to the countryside; it had to be planned in advance and was not always easy to achieve.
Big adventures were few and far between, but that didn’t stop me finding ways to spend time outdoors, The restrictions of my surroundings didn’t hinder my desire to get outdoors instead they inspired me to make the most of what I had and what was around me, I didn’t know it then but looking back I realise I was creating my own little ‘everyday adventures’: finding new ways to enjoy the outdoors being creative and inventive brought me a great deal of joy and happiness in simple activities.
As I got into my teens my adventures took me slightly further afield and allowed me to try new things, like rock climbing, abseiling and hill walking. My love of getting outdoors was always there; I loved being in nature, taking in the landscape, the views the space and sense of freedom and even the ever-changing weather!
In Scotland you can often experience four seasons in one day! I can still vividly remember walking part of the West Highland way on a planned school pilgrimage to Iona (a small island in the Inner Hebrides on the West Coast of Scotland) it was a pretty ‘dreich day’, as they say in Scotland. The rain was soft and misty and we got soaked, but I distinctly remember it was such a lovely feeling, just being so immersed in nature and all that it gives to us.
To this day if I am out walking or riding my bike and the soft Scottish rain descends, it always takes me back to that trip and wonderful feelings of joy and contentment that come from being in that moment.
For me its these small moments of joy and contentment that are key to what lies at the heart of ‘everyday adventures. It’s the simple moments we experience that give us that sense of happiness and a feeling of being alive.
We might not be able to head off to the Andes or climb Everest, to get our kicks, but we can experience similar feelings on a smaller more modest scale using what’s around us. We can choose to explore a new trail when out biking or find a new route when walking the dog instead of always taking the same one each time.
Its these little moments of spontaneity are at the heart of ‘everyday adventures’ and in many ways these are the experiences that enrich our lives and help us feel alive, living in the moment breaking up the routine and mundane aspects of life and its responsibilities. Getting curious feeling a sense of wonder and awe can be found in the simplest things that we do everyday, Helping us to experience moments of joy, allowing us to live in the moment, enjoying an experience just for the fun of it not because you are the fastest, the first, or have climbed the highest. The joy comes from being bold enough to be spontaneous in that very moment, changing up the everyday routine.
If anything good has come out of 2020 it’s the appreciation of our surroundings and of what’s important in life, it’s the realisation that we often take too much for granted and always seem to look to the ‘bigger stuff’ to make us happy. The restrictions that we have lived with have changed that and forced us to review our lives, to stop and listen to the sounds of nature to look at what’s around us with a different perspective, to explore more from our doorsteps and to live in the moment, to be more spontaneous and be more adventurers, even if it’s in our own back yards.
For me, that has shown it’s not how far we go, how fast or how high. It’s about being bold enough and curious enough to choose the unknown to take the risk no matter how small. To pick the ‘butter pecan caramel’ ice cream even though you know the vanilla is familiar and great! But you're going to try something new, just to experience the joy of the unknown.
So here’s to the ‘everyday adventure’ the stuff we can do, the little experiences of joy that we can all have in our lives each day. If we are brave enough!
BOOK OF THE WEEK
The Doorstep Mile by Alastair Humphreys
Alastair Humphreys’ book The Doorstep Mile, aims to share with us ways to ‘live more adventurously amidst the chaos of life’.
As Humphrey’s says, “We all dream of achieving the extraordinary in our lives, our personal version of trekking to the South Pole. Having failed at that myself, but eventually come out the other end smiling, I now believe there is something even more important than striving for the remarkable. And that is to stop dreaming about an ‘adventure of a lifetime’, and instead pursue a lifetime of living adventurously through a daily pledge to push myself a little, scare myself now and then, and remain curious.”
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
Pick Moon by Nick Drake
Pink Moon is the title track from the 1972 album of the same name. A stripped back album featuring just Drake on acoustic guitar with distinctive vocals, it’s often thought to have been attributed to Drake’s ongoing battle with depression. Whatever the source of its melancholy, it’s a beautiful, compact album to listen to.
Nick Drake – Pink Moon