Episode #68: What is Adventure?
Today marks one year of continuous podcasts in this format, and it’s a been a fun adventure. So today’s episode is all about adventure – or rather, the side of adventure that doesn’t often make it in the pages of adventures books or memoirs – the deliberation that sometimes occurs prior and the calamities that happen in everyday life that, when looked back on years later, make one think – “you know, that was quite the adventure.”
So here’s a segment from The Thirteenth Hour about this:
“I don’t know what to say,” she murmured. “What do you say to a story like that?”
“I dunno, you tell me.”
It seemed like she had not moved since I had started. “Well, you always dreamed of seeing the world, and now you’re doing it. And on a quest – just like something out of a faerie tale, isn’t it?”
“I guess …” but a pretty messed up one, I added to myself. And then I continued, “But characters in faerie tales always seemed to know what they were doing, with a genuine purpose, for good reasons. Not just for a selfish King who wants to live forever. That just seems like such a dumb reason. I mean, I guess I’m not supposed to question my orders, but it’s just so hard to get riled up enough to risk your rear when you think the goal’s a waste of time. And men.”
“It’s okay. I guess, that’s the sort of thing Kings and Queens do, it’s just that … I dunno.”
“So, Logan, why not just leave? What you care about Darian? Nobody would stop you; as far as they know, you ate it along with the rest of the crew at sea.”
I sighed, picked up a stone, and threw it, feeling the tension ripple through my muscles. I watched it fly through the air, spinning unevenly, and finally disappear into the morning fog.
“I can’t explain it, really. You’re right, I could just leave, and nobody would know. But there’s something holding me back … I guess I kind of feel I owe it to the others to finish what we started … since we all trained together, and they were good guys overall. I guess I feel like if I finished, they wouldn’t have given up their lives in vain. You know? And …”
I looked around the marketplace. There was a dead soldier lying not more than twenty feet away. He had also died for King Darian. There had to be a better reason than glory, civic duty, or patriotism. Or was it just the sense of adventure?
“Sorry. Anyway, I made this promise to Wally right before he died. I promised we would finish the quest so he wouldn’t have to hear Darian’s complaining in the afterlife.”
Aurora giggled. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah. Well, kind of.”
“But it’s just a legend.”
“Finishing the quest for your friends is one thing, but, Logan, what do you want?”
“I’m starting to think that is what I want. I’ve always … liked to think of things, but doing them was another matter. Let’s face it – I’m a dreamer. You know?”
“Don’t I,” said Aurora knowingly.
“I like to sit and dream about the things I would like to do. But then I realized in real life, I just sorta let things happen to me, without ever knowing why. I’d like that not to happen so much anymore. I’ve always wanted to see the places that I’ve read about in faerie stories and legends. But now … now I can actually see those places.”
“I think if I walked now, I’d always wonder. Wally would often say that even if something appears impossible doesn’t mean that it’s meant to stay that way.”
“Well, that makes sense to me. You know, I never told anybody this, but … I always hated that inn job.”
“What! Well, you were a damned good actress then! I thought you loved it.”
“Well, I liked the horses. And Mr. Cromwell made up for a lot. He was like an uncle to me. But that was it. The smell of the stable, cleaning up after the horses, difficult customers, washing the bedsheets, cleaning the rooms, serving the drinks, cleaning up the bathrooms, with the stench and the vomit after a celebration … yuck.”
“From that to the coal mines. Living the high life, huh?”
“Well, you know how I landed that mining job? Well, they needed people, and honestly, I think they would have taken anyone, but the foreman said it wasn’t a good job for women, and no woman could ever expect to make it because she didn’t have what it took. Women, he said, were weak. I thought, how does he know? Of course, deep down, I was scared. But, just to spite him and prove him wrong, I made him take me; I was so mad. In the end, he just shrugged, and said, ‘Well, it’s your life.’ He was right; it was just as bad as I thought it’d be.”
“How bad’s that?”
“Well, it was worse, if that’s any indication. Damp, claustrophobic, lots of dirty, sweaty men, black air all around, always risk of explosions … I’d rather shovel manure for the rest of my life than go back there.”
“Well, you’re still alive,” I said at last.
Aurora laughed. “I’m just venting. I’m not a total cynic yet, Logan. Besides, this was about you, not me. I just wanted to say that I think it’s good you’re thinking like this. Maybe I need to start, too.”
“Oh, so there are things you’d like to do,” I said.
“Of course! I’m not dead yet, Logan. I still want to explore some, live some, and see some of the world. And then, one day, I don’t know when, maybe when I’m a doddering old lady, settle down in a little cottage in the forest in a place with a lot of open space and some purple mountains, and live the rest of my life. I hope that’s not too much to ask.”
Wait … the open fields and the purple mountains that seemed to call out to me … the thought painted itself onto the canvas in my mind. And another with it.
“Hmmm. Lemme make a suggestion.”
“Come with me. On the quest.”
I expected Aurora to say something, to laugh, or at least to show some indication of surprise. But she didn’t. She cocked her head to one side, looking silent and thoughtful. She stared off, absently, into the cool morning mist. She was silent for a time.
“Yes,” she said, with a nod that added an air of finality to her reply. “How did you know, Logan, what I was just about to ask?” she asked.
I smiled. “Well, I have known you for a pretty long time.”
So that’s how Aurora joined me on the quest. And because she did, our lives were changed forever.
The next clip on the show partly concerns these hardy little vehicles, called matatus, commonly found in East Africa, that are an important source of public transport. They’re Japanese made minivans that officially hold 15 people but more often carry somewhere around 20-30. My wife and I have been on them many a time while in the region while there for work … but this time, we ended up on an adventure. Note this one (just a picture I found randomly on the internet) even has the word “HERO” emblazoned across the front (i.e. the hero’s journey usually involves some discomfort).
As always, thanks for listening!
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