Adventure: The Art of Living Awake

Predicting the future. Many of us spend a considerable amount of energy trying our hand at it, because ultimately we want to create systems that will protect the things we desire, and ward off the things we wish to avoid.

Our constant attempts to direct our lives one way or another often require wisdom; but sometimes wisdom just doesn’t cut it. We end up in a mess that we never planned for, proving that being wise isn’t the same as being in control.

Control. We don’t have a lot of it. Or maybe more accurately, we have a lot of it, but we don’t have control over very much. So, engaging our knowledge-to-date and seeking wisdom help us survive these conditions, we forge ahead into the great unknown.

Life is, experientially, so two-faced, carrying with it the potential for goodness beyond our imagination and sorrow we never thought we’d have to face. While we long for adventure, we also fear the negative possibilities that come our way. The adventurer within can easily become resigned to walk the familiar and proven path — not out of wisdom, but out of fear. Then we begin to feel stagnant and trapped in the systems we have created, no longer dreaming or taking real risks that would break us into new horizons in relationships, work, health, and involvement in our local and broad communities.

But could the voice of the adventurer within actually be the wise one? With that thought, we are tempted to ask, “Don’t adventure, exploration, and pushing the limits lead to a life of risk-taking that would change our dependency on the systems, the ones we create to give order and generate safety? How could taking risks be wise for my future?”

My hunch is that the perspective needed lies in the foundation of what we believe existence is all about, and practically, if those convictions win our allegiance as we engage the day-to-day.

At the heart of what theologians call the “meta-narrative,” which is the main storyline of all existence, is the incessant agenda of flourishing — people, dogs, plants, icebergs, and the rest of creation. If we share the conviction that at its core, reality is in a process of renewal, we become participants by purposing our lives to be in harmony with God’s redemptive heart.

Aligning ourselves with God in this work entails growth, healing, creating, and a lot of courage because reclaiming everything for good is an adventure — the most purposeful one we can have!

Adventure is becoming fully and only yourself, and subsequently inviting others to do the same. It is taking what is unformed and creating, or what is broken and mending.

Adventure is being present to this moment, not to the future or past in self-protection. It is a life of faith and trust, where getting caught up in God’s loving restoration will take you to regions within yourself you didn’t know existed, and to people and places in the world you had never known before. Adventure is trading control disguised as learning, improvement, systems, and rightness in exchange for trust in the protection that comes from God’s companionship and faithfulness, no matter what happens.

Adventure is an inherent element to living awake. Listen to your desire for it. Consider what may be in the way of freely trusting. Pay attention to the sleeping and dying in their various forms around you, and join with God to invite it to presence and aliveness. You will need courage to walk into these new horizons. Because God’s heart is to bring life to all things, we can rest, knowing we’re never alone in our adventurous partnership.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Josh Haroldson.

Originally published in Issue 19 of Converge Magazine.