At the beginning of this year my husband and I decided to call one day out of each month Adventure Day. We had no idea what we would do on Adventure Day, but we had one rule: to do something we hadn’t done before. Get out of the comfort zone. Get out of the house. Explore, and let the world show us things.
(I can hear all the sevens on the enneagram cheering, “Hooray! Now she’s talking our language!”)
What’s Adventure Day?
Adventure Day happens once a month. Or twice a month, if you want. It’s a day when you do something different. Set it aside in advance. (It’s not Spontaneous Day. It’s Adventure Day. We can’t become that much like the sevens.)
The activity is up to you. It can be something you think would be fun – like roller-skating at the local rink. It can be something that scares you a little – like eating a foreign cuisine you’ve never tried, or going to the symphony if you don’t know classical music. Or it can be something cheese-y or tourist-y that you’d be embarrassed to admit you did – like gem mining, or a carriage ride through the city, or the carnival that shows up in the mall parking lot every summer. (You know the one. No matter what decade it is, Led Zeppelin “Been a Long Time” is invariably blaring as you scream your way around the Ferris wheel.)
A combination of fun, a little scary, and really cheese-y is optimal. (For those who are snooty, being cheese-y is the scary part!)
(My song An Uneventful Evening is the story of an Adventure Day that takes place at the batting cages.)
Adventure Day can last a whole day, or an overnight, or just a few hours. But keep it do-able and somewhat local so that you don’t make it into such a big deal that you never even do it. The goal is just to do it.
Why do Adventure Day?
1 – To Get Out.
In the book, The Big Moo, by Seth Godin (and the Group of 33), there’s a great essay called “Get Out.” The advice is for business types and entrepreneurs, but it applies to everyone.
“If you want to do anything new in the marketplace, you’ve got to get as serious, rigorous and creative about renewing yourself as any other aspect of your business. So get out. Get out of your comfort zone. Too often in the business world we preserve and revere experience, when we should be challenging and renewing it. Go out and get some inexperience.”
2 – To Fill the Well
Adventure Day makes you receptive. It opens you up. If you’ve been reading my blogs on intent and goal setting, then you know how to be proactive and productive. But we also need to open up and be receptive because this is what replenishes the well of images and ideas and keeps us from burning out on productivity.
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron prescribes “Artist Dates.” This is one of the tools for creative types. She calls it “filling the well.”
Adventure Day is similar, but you don’t have to do it alone. And it’s not limited to artists looking to be more creative. It’s about waking up and being alive, which, of course, makes us more creative!
3 – To Get Uncomfortable
Our world has turned into The Olive Garden. The reigning mantra seems to be, “Just keep us safe. Don’t challenge us. Fill us up with pasta and the same salty salads everywhere we go.”
Sometimes I’m invited to perform for business events, sales conferences, or corporate meetings. Some of these audiences are happy and excited. It’s obvious that the company encourages and attracts health and creativity.
Occasionally, though, it’s what I call “The Coffeehouse of the Dead.” An audience of people who have given up on the idea of a life filled with opportunity and adventure. These are people who have decided on what Thoreau called the “quiet life of desperation.” They just want to get back to The Olive Garden.
I say, “Have some baba ganoush and get uncomfortable.” Watch how you react to the discomfort. You might get grouchy. But then again, you might laugh at yourself a little. And maybe you’ll receive a gem or two because life can’t resist handing a gem or two to those who are at least willing.
It might seem like my comfort zone is fairly wide after years of getting on planes or taking road trips to go perform at new theatres or festivals. But just because I travel a lot and perform doesn’t mean I haven’t created my own little Olive Gardens. For me, it’s good to have an adventure that’s not at all affiliated with my work in the world. (Yes, I love the carnival in the mall parking lot. Give me Led Zeppelin, the smell of cotton candy, and the sound of kids screaming at the all-too-probable likelihood that they might die on this ride.)
What to Expect
Adventure vs. Fun
I get nervous before each Adventure Day. I’m always a little worried about whether or not it will be fun.
But that’s part of the Adventure. If I weren’t at least a little uncomfortable, it wouldn’t be much of an Adventure, would it?
AND, the point of Adventure Day is not about fun. Otherwise it’d be called “Fun Day,” which is simply way too much pressure. You certainly can have fun on Adventure Day – and most likely you will – but the point of it is to open your brain and your heart and your senses, and welcome a life that’s more interesting. It’s also great for relationship renewal.
Take a Day Off of Work for Adventure Day
Too many people limit their days off for illness. Take a day off for health. Take a day off for Adventure. If your company frowns on this, then call it a sick day. (Then, start looking for a new place to work.)
When I first got out of college, I worked for Ogilvy & Mather in DC. My former college roommate was also working in DC. One unexpected sunny warm day in the winter of that year, we each called in sick, got in her car, and drove to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Our goal was just to drive over it, and drive back over it again. We paid the toll, and for that brief time, we left our jobs and the January cold behind. We rolled down the windows and felt freedom and wind and water. We laughed and sang along to Jimmy Buffet. We filled up the well.
If companies had any sense, they’d encourage their staff to take days off to drive over bridges. I quit my job and became a songwriter soon after that day. I got sick of sick days. Use your sick days to stay well.
What Happens on A Sample Adventure Day
This past week, Adventure Day was actually two days. My husband and I hiked five miles up Mount LeConte in the Smoky Mountains. We stayed at the LeConte Lodge for the night. And we hiked 5 miles back down.
The Adventure Part:
We had printed out an account of the trail written by Ed Wright, an old-timer who gives a mile-by-mile history of the trail and its landmarks. We loved stopping to read it, and follow the path and thoughts of this unknown person. Of course, the beauty was remarkable. The hike was hard. The smells were all new and wild.
The Uncomfortable Part:
The beds at the Lodge.
The cold at night.
The families that came as a group. They brought 13 pre-teen kids who interrupted our perfectly serene sunset moment on the cliff’s edge arriving en masse and talking about wetting their pants, jumping over the edge, and Mission Impossible 3. They made me want to yell, “Damn it! You’re wrecking our Adventure Day!” (I didn’t, of course.)
And, lastly, the morning coffee that tasted like, well, sewage.
The Funny Part:
The man in the lodge who, just after my husband and I made faces at each other after sipping our coffee, sipped his coffee and said, “AAAAAHHHH. Now THAT’S goooood.”
I am inspired by strong women. On this trip I discovered Margaret Stevenson. The journal of her 718 trips up Mount LeConte was in the lodge. It made me cry. Her last hike was when she was 83, when she decided to limit her hiking to the less challenging trails. She adored native flowers, as do I. And she talked with and was kind to everyone she met on the trail. (She probably wouldn’t have wanted to yell at the pre-teens.)
Plan Your Own
What you do depends on you. What’s fun or interesting or new to one person might be old hat to another.
Also, remember, uncomfortable doesn’t mean “in pain.” Don’t make yourself do something harmful to you. You don’t have to sky-dive to be uncomfortable! (Maybe going to the Olive Garden would make you uncomfortable.)
Just remember this thought, from the Big Moo. “The best way to open your mind is to apply a jolt of unfamiliarity.”
The unfamiliar is all around you. Go find it. Let me know how it goes.