If you were in school when I was, then you might remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books. While I do not recall the specifics, I do remember that you got to decide on one of a couple of different choices. Choose ‘x’ and turn to page 20. Choose ‘y’ and turn to page 25.
I always thought this was the coolest concept. What didn’t occur to me then (and why would it, I was probably 9 years old or so) was that this is the perfect metaphor for life itself.
Choose your own adventure. Every day is new and unique, and you get to choose what that will mean for you.
As children, this is totally how you see most days. New experiences, new things to learn, new people, different and unique ways of being. But as you grow up, the story changes fairly drastically.
The adventures tend to dry up, and you are faced with the necessary tedium of work. In order to exist in the adult world, you will have to get a job, earn money, and do your part to be a contributing member of society.
Never mind that many jobs involve working to earn just enough to pay the bills, which never seem to end. Don’t get too caught up in the fact that your contribution to society might simply increase shareholder earnings and help the fat cats get fatter. There are expectations. Adventure is for children.
Even Yoda poo-pooed adventure.
“Adventure, ha. Excitement, ha. A Jedi craves not these things.”
I rarely disagree with Yoda, but this time I do. Life IS an adventure.
Does your story actually interest you?
Just taking the path to becoming a Jedi in the Star Wars universe tends to be an adventure. I mean, come on, you get to learn to use a lightsaber. How cool is that? You learn how to move things with your mind. This is totally an adventure, so what in the swamps of Dagobah was Yoda going on about?
Recklessness. Heedlessness. Luke didn’t just crave adventure, he would do stupid things in the name of thrills and excitement. He rarely thought anything through. That was Yoda’s point.
Somehow society has missed that point. You can have a life of adventure, but still be mindful. Yet that idea gets bogged down in this quagmire of responsibility, doing the right thing, fitting in, and so on.
I know a lot of people who have chosen to take expected paths and do jobs that make them miserable. They slog through, earn the money, but after 8–10 hours at work depart exhausted in mind, body, and spirit. Adventure? They can barely eat dinner before collapsing on the couch in front of the TV for a few hours or going straight to bed.
Granted, for some people work IS their adventure. Those 8–10 hours at work may exhaust them, but they also fulfill them. That’s awesome. If you are living that life, more power to you.
Too many people take jobs that enrich nobody and offer zero adventure. Sometimes this is because this is a responsible thing to do. You have bills to pay and need a means to that end.
I have seen too many people sacrifice their time, energy, and enthusiasm in the process. Why? Because either they never figured out the story of the life they really wanted, or they bought that the interesting adventure wouldn’t work out and pay.
The adventure can begin again
Far too many movies currently are remakes, reboots, and retellings of the same story. How many times does Batman, Spiderman, and The Terminator need to be begun anew? Do we REALLY need live-action remakes of great Disney cartoons? How can they be considering redoing already perfect movies like Clue and The Princess Bride?
But therein is the lesson. Any adventure can be started, restarted, or started anew. This applies to you and your life, too.
Yeah, I know, you are getting too old for this crap. And if you believe that, you are absolutely correct. To quote Henry Ford:
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
I started writing when I was 9. I fell in love with sci-fi and fantasy first. Yet I bought into the idea that writers struggle, and cannot earn a living. So for the next 30 years, I only pursued writing on the side. Yet I kept writing and branched out into other genres and topics.
During the intervening time, I worked a number of jobs that varied from underpaying and interesting to well-paying but dull, and just about everything in-between. Because of this I bounced between jobs a lot.
Then the opportunity presented itself for me to write full-time. I take heart in knowing that Paulo Coelho was in his 40’s before achieving success. If he can do it, then so can I.
You get to choose your own adventure. For 28 years I have been practicing and teaching medieval fencing — swashbuckling adventures! Though I was 19 when I started, I have seen people begin fencing in their 50’s, 60’s, and even 70’s. One of my favorite fencers just turned 66, and frequently kicks my ass when we fight.
Thus, it’s never too late to start an adventure.
If you do not know what brings you joy, makes you happy, lights you up — take some time to learn. Work on being more mindful of your thoughts and feelings to get to know your headspace. You ARE the only one in there, after all, so wouldn’t you prefer to be driving this life consciously rather than subconsciously?
You are only on this planet for a finite number of years. But you are not just here to survive. You are meant to thrive. Every single day there are new choices to be made. If you are more miserable than you are content and excited, take that into consideration.
Will today be an adventure or just another stagnant day? You get to choose, no matter what you are told.
Yes, for some this is easier than for others. But I believe that if those who can make interesting and adventurous choices do, they can branch out and spread to more people from there.
When you are inundated with negativity, inertia, and unhappiness, it is all too easy to take that into your psyche. This is why I believe that when you have the ability to choose your own adventure, you should. The best way to change a fear-based society is to present alternatives to the fear people can see, experience, and latch onto.
Life need not be a terrible struggle and a walk to death…it IS an adventure. That doesn’t have to end with adulthood. The book is constantly being written. The pages are blank until you ink them.
Choose wisely. But don’t hesitate to choose. You are worthy and deserving of an incredible life. Be mindful of this, get to know your headspace, and then choose your own adventure.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter, and you can choose your own adventure every day.